x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Verdict awaited in UAE sedition plot trial

94 Emiratis accused of trying to foment a revolution by stirring up anti-government feeling and undermining the legitimacy of the state and the reputation of its rulers.

The Minister of Justice, Dr Hadef bin Jouan Al Dhaheri, says the UAE gave the defendants the same rights and guarantees as those given to defendants in developed nations. Silvia Razgova / The National
The Minister of Justice, Dr Hadef bin Jouan Al Dhaheri, says the UAE gave the defendants the same rights and guarantees as those given to defendants in developed nations. Silvia Razgova / The National

ABU DHABI // A verdict is expected today in the trial of 94 Emiratis charged with sedition.

The group are accused of trying to foment a revolution by stirring up anti-government feeling and undermining the legitimacy of the state and the reputation of its rulers.

Prosecutors say they pledged allegiance to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and that their aim was to distort the country's image both here and abroad in an attempt to overthrow the leadership. They are said to have used social-media websites to foster discontent.

All 94 have denied the charges. Some claimed to be involved in little more than charitable community work, and some say they were not in the country when the alleged offences were committed. Others say they were set up and their case files have been tampered with.

The trial before the Federal Supreme Court, the country's highest judicial authority, is unprecedented in legal history and the case has shone an international spotlight on the UAE's legal and judicial system.

All 13 hearings over a five-month period have been comprehensively reported by UAE media. The defence lawyer Abdulhameed Al Kumaiti, who represents 86 of the 94 accused, had demanded a blackout on reporting of the trial, but his application was rejected by the court on the ground of media freedom. "We have free media in the country and we respect them," Judge Falah Al Hajeri said.

Writing today in The National, the leading lawyer Dr Habib Al Mulla says the hearings have been conducted with a level of transparency unusual in criminal trials.

"Whatever the Supreme Court rules, the undisputed fact is that the trial process was fair, transparent and in strict adherence to the rule of law," Dr Al Mulla writes.

In an interview with Al Ittihad, the Arabic-language sister newspaper of The National, the Minister of Justice said the independence of the judiciary was a cornerstone of the country's stability.

Dr Hadef bin Jouan Al Dhaheri said the UAE gave defendants the same rights and guarantees as those given to defendants in developed nations. He said the World Justice Project's Rule of Law Index showed the UAE's justice system leading the region.

The minister called the finding "a vote of confidence from a respected international agency in the federal and local judicial system".

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