Majority of Defendants in UAE 94 Trial Found Guilty
The majority of defendants in the UAE 94 trial have been found guilty, receiving prison sentences of varying length. 68 defendants have been found guilty and the remaining 26, which includes the 13 female defendants, have been acquitted. Prison sentences vary from 3 to 15 years and some include significant fines.
8 of the defendants, who were tried in absentia as they are overseas, were sentenced to 15 years. Sheikh Sultan bin Kayed al-Qasimi, cousin of Ras al-Khaimah’s ruler, and prominent human rights lawyers Dr. Mohamed al-Roken and Dr. Mohamed al-Mansoori were sentenced to 10 years each along with the vast majority of the rest who were found guilty.
These verdicts come at the end of a trial where credible allegations of torture have gone without investigation, defendants have been denied proper access to legal representation and the courtroom has been closed to international observers and foreign media.
Prior to the trial, defendants were held in pre-trial detention at a secret location for several months. During this period they allege that they were tortured, denied access to legal representation and barred from having family visits. In court, defendants have repeatedly told the judges that they were tortured and forced to sign confessions but the authorities have failed to investigate. 22 handwritten letters have been smuggled out of prison, in which defendants make graphic allegations of torture.
International observers and foreign media have been barred from attending court sessions, in what was supposed to be a public trial. Defendants’ families took it upon themselves to report on proceedings, which led to the arrest & imprisonment of Abdulla al-Hadidi, who is serving a 10-month prison sentence for questioning proceedings on social media. Defence lawyers were not given adequate time to prepare their case, with prosecution evidence only provided two days before the first trial session, and two of the three judges in the case were contracted, which has called into question their independence. Full details can be found in our trial observation report.
The verdicts in this trial do not represent a process that has been fair and open.
Rori Donaghy, Campaign Manager, said: “these verdicts come at the end of a trial that had purely political motivations. Authorities have sought to silence political activists and intimidate others who may support democratic reforms. Allegations of torture remain without investigation and numerous fair trial standards have been violated. UAE authorities must quash these verdicts, release these individuals against whom they have presented no credible evidence and investigate the allegations of torture that have been made”.
Indeed, the crackdown continues. Last night, on July 1st, two new arrests took place. Obaid Yousif al-Zaabi, brother of now convicted Ahmed al-Zaabi, was arrested and taken from his home by state security officers.Obaid had been using his social media account to share his criticisms of the trial, show support for democratic reforms and repeat allegations of torture his brother had made in court. Hussain al-Ajlah, whose brother is one of the 94, has also been arrested.
We call on the international community to demand that the UAE uphold their commitment to the United Nations Convention Against Torture by investigating allegations and holding perpetrators to account in line with international law. Further, the international community must make it clear that show trials such as these are unacceptable and demand that authorities respect the rights of all 94 defendants.
UAE authorities should end their crackdown against political activists and respect their human rights. This has been a show trial and has, in no way, served justice.