State media in the United Arab Emirates reported that 84 persons are set to face trial for charges related to terrorism.
This development comes a decade after a previous mass trial involving government critics.
The Gulf state’s attorney general ordered the trial of “mostly members of the terrorist organisation of (the) Muslim Brotherhood“, official news agency WAM said.
In 2013, the UAE prosecuted 94 activists, lawyers, students, teachers, and other government critics, alleging their affiliation with the banned Muslim Brotherhood. Human rights organisations condemned the legal proceedings back then.
Subsequently, 69 individuals were sentenced to imprisonment as a result of these trials, with a significant number still incarcerated. According to WAM, some of them are slated to face charges in a new trial.
The defendants are accused of “establishing another clandestine organisation to commit acts of violence and terrorism on UAE soil,” the news agency said.
“The defendants had concealed this crime and its evidence before they were arrested and tried in 2013,” it added.
A six-month investigation uncovered “sufficient evidence” for the attorney general to pursue the new trial, WAM said.
In December, Human Rights Watch stated that the accused were facing persecution “in retribution for establishing an independent advocacy group in 2010.”
The rights group based in New York revealed that charges were filed against additional detained dissidents, among them human rights campaigner Ahmed Mansour.
In 2018, Mansour received a 10-year prison sentence for his criticism of the government and for allegedly damaging the country’s reputation on social media.
“Levelling new charges based on peaceful advocacy over a decade ago seems nothing more than a shameless pretext to keep these men behind bars,” said HRW’s deputy regional director, Michael Page.
Emirati authorities said on Saturday that the defendants had been given legal representation and that the State Security Court had “begun hearing witnesses, and the public trial procedures are ongoing“.
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