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Middle East

Human rights groups condemn ‘political trial’ in UAE


Sixty-one convicted coup plotters received jail terms of up to 10 years in the United Arab Emirates after a trial that targeted Islamists and drew criticism from human rights groups.

Among those sentenced were academics, lawyers and members of prominent UAE families, including a cousin of the ruler of one of the seven emirates in the federation, a long-time foe of Islamist groups seeking a role in politics.

Eight men were sentenced in absentia by the Federal Supreme Court to 15 years in prison, in a judgment rights groups said showed growing intolerance in the US-allied Gulf Arab country. The government said the sentences could not be appealed.

“These verdicts cement the UAE’s reputation as a serious abuser of basic human rights,” said Nicholas McGeehan, Gulf researcher at Human Rights Watch.

Dozens of suspected Islamists have been detained in the past year amid government worries about a spillover of Arab unrest.

The trial was widely seen as an attempt to tackle what the UAE sees as a threat from the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

Many of the 94 defendants belong to al-Islah, a group that the UAE says has links to Egypt’s Brotherhood. Al-Islah denies this, but says it shares some of the Brotherhood’s ideology.