Summary of First Trial Session in UAE 94 Case
Trial Summary Report
Although this is a public trial, Emirati authorities denied Ahmed al-Dhufairi of Amnesty International and Naomi Crottaz of Alkarama entry to the country as international observers to attend the trial. More than 20 international observers who were permitted entry to the country were denied access to what is supposed to be a public trial.
International media were blocked from attending the trial and security services stopped them from interviewing family members in the car park of the Federal Supreme Court. Only domestic media and civil society groups were permitted entry to the court.
The area surrounding the courthouse was fenced off with police cars and heavily patrolled with armed police officers. There was unprecedented security in Abu Dhabi throughout the trial session.
Ibrahim al-Siddiq and Hamad al-Hadidi, both sons of detainees, were arrested for wearing badges featuring photos of their fathers. They were released later in the day after signing a statement promising not to wear photos of the detainees again.
The next hearing will be held on March 11th 2013 in order to inform those charged in absentia of the case and to allow defence attorneys to prepare their case after only receiving court documents four days before the trial session.
The court ordered that bail for the 13 female defendants will continue. The court ordered that three defendants who are employed in the judiciary, Ali al-Kindi, Khamis al-Sam & Mohamed Diab al-Abdouly, will be moved to appropriately designed prisons given their position in society. The court ordered that Khamis al-Sam, Abdulsalam Darwish, Ibrahim al-Yassi, Saif al-Ichlah and Adnan Julfar be transferred to hospital in order to be examined by medical specialists.
Defendant’s Allegations of Torture & Family Description of Defendant’s Appearance
Sheikh Sultan bin Kayed al-Qasimi, chairman of the al-Islah association and cousin of the ruler of Ras al-Khaimah, stated that he is saddened as he could never believe an atrocity like this could happen in the United Arab Emirates. Sheikh Sultan pleaded not guilty to the charges and stated “I refuse to say anything that can be interpreted as abandoning my fellow detainees. I am the chairman of the al-Islah society and as such I take full responsibility for all of its members and will not abandon them”.
Dr. Mohamed al-Roken, a renowned constitutional and human rights lawyer, mentioned that the public prosecutor was once a law student of his. Dr. al-Roken proceeded to speak on behalf of all the detainees and when the judge stopped him, stating that the defendants had not given him power of attorney to speak on their behalf, a chorus of ‘we do’ was heard from the defendants.
Dr. al-Roken demanded that immediate intensive therapy sessions be provided to the defendant Ahmed Ghaith al-Suweidi, adding ‘this is not the Ahmed Ghaith I know’.
Dr. al-Roken demanded the immediate release of both his son Rashid and son-in-law Abdulla al-Hajri, stating that they had been subjected to five months of enforced disappearance and torture. It was only after five months of detention that authorities released information stating that they had detained the two and added them to the investigation.
Dr. al-Roken requested that bail be granted for the defendants, citing the following reasons:
- · Given that bail has been granted to the 13 female defendants it should be extended to all the accused.
- · Defendants are not a flight risk as they are respectable members of society.
- · Granting bail to the detainees protects them against further torture at the hands of the authorities.
- · Granting bail will encourage those being tried in absentia to return to the country.
Ahmed bin Ghaith al-Suweidi, documented by Human Rights Watch as being subjected to enforced disappearance and torture, spoke in court. According to court documents prosecution evidence relies on a confession from al-Suweidi, that human rights activists believe was given under torture. In court, al-Suweidi stated to the judge “Your honor, I ask for protection for myself and my family, because what I am about to say will cost me my life. I hereby deny all the charges against me.” The lawyer asked him to explain and he added, “I am scared. Scared for my life and for my family, and I request the court to extend its protection because I am denying all these charges.” Al-Suweidi went on to state he has been subjected to horrendous and vicious torture to extract a confession. Al-Suweidi says that the guards in prison threatened him and his family with death if he pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Mohammed Abdulrazaq claimed to have been threatened with death. Abdulrazaq claimed to have been blindfolded and interrogated by a senior member of the security services before being harshly beaten and tortured.
The lawyer of Ahmed al-Zaabi stated that his client had been viciously tortured citing that security services had pulled his nails off his hand as an example of the treatment he had suffered.
Isa al-Sari described how he had been locked in the back of a security services car and petrol was leaked in the air vents, leading him to struggle with breathing. He stated that he was held in the car for 30 minutes and felt like he was choking to death.
Ibrahim al-Yassi stated that he had suffered physical torture that focused on his mouth.
Rashid al-Roken’s lawyer told the judge that he had been beaten several times a day.
Family members described Dr. Hadif al-Owais as appearing absent-minded and dazed. The answers he gave were cryptic and short, which is unlike him. Family members were concerned about his welfare.
Testimony from family members present at the trial.
Social media accounts of those present in the trial and human rights organisations.
Emirates Centre for Human Rights 08/03/2013
For further information please contact Rori Donaghy on: 07850062105 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org