Dozens of Activists on Trial in UAE for Plotting a Coup

Human Rights Watch is urging officials in the United Arab Emirates to hold a fair trial for the 94 activists prosecutors accuse of plotting a government coup. The attorney general in the UAE, Salem Kobaish said in February that the defendants would stand trial for having established and led a movement whose goal was to oppose the basic political system the government was founded upon and to eventually seize power.

Kobaish accused the dozens of defendants of creating a secret organization that was in contact with organizations and individuals abroad. He added that the group had created or had invested in real estate firms to help finance their movement.

The government of the emirate says all of those accused are connected to Al-Islah, which is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. The Middle East director for the Human Rights Watch, Sarah Leah Whitson said she fears that a mockery of justice will take place as those accused, both men and women, were preparing to start the trial Monday.

The director of HRW’s in the Middle East said those who were accused included human rights lawyers, teachers, student leaders and even judges. She said it appeared that authorities in the UAE would drag dozens of UAE citizens through an unfair judicial process, which will make a mockery of the justice system.

The human rights watchdog, which is based in New York, believes the court process raises a number of serious concerns over a fair trial, including limiting the access the defendants to lawyers and withholding  a number of key documents over the charges, including evidence against the defendants.

All of the defendants will be appearing in an Abu Dhabi Federal Supreme Court, which is the state’s security court. Being tried in this court, said the HRW Middle East director, deprives all the defendants from filing an appeal.

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