x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Oman jails 12 more after Sohar protests

Prosecution says 12 were not genuine protesters but 'there to riot and cause harm to the public'.

MUSCAT// An Omani court has jailed 12 men for protesting in Sohar, an industrial city that was the scene of demonstrations earlier this year.

The men, aged between 18 and 27, were sentenced to prison terms of between one and three-and-a-half years.

They had decided not to be represented by lawyers, according to witnesses at the court.

Two of the men were found guilty of making explosives and throwing them at security forces, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office said.

The charge appeared to refer to when demonstrators had clashed with the army during the protests.

"These young men were not genuine protesters but were there to riot and cause harm to the general public," the spokesman said.

"Hundreds of genuine protesters were not arrested or jailed because they were peaceful. This is the difference between the two groups."

On June 28, the public prosecutor said 13 protesters were sentenced to prison for up to five years for protesting in Sohar. A further 55 people were jailed for up to one year on June 29 for demonstrating in the eastern town of Jaalan Bani Bu Ali.

A total of 80 protesters have been handed prison terms so far.

The usually calm sultanate was rocked by months of turmoil that had been inspired by pro-democracy revolts that toppled regimes in Egypt and Tunisia.

Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who remains popular, has ruled Oman for 40 years.

He has promised a US$2.6 billion (Dh9.6bn) spending package and the government has said it would also create 50,000 public sector jobs.