UAE Islamists convicted for plotting government coup


United Arab Emirates officials said they had broken up a terrorist cell that was plotting attacks both domestically and abroad.


Marwan Naamani

The United Arab Emirates convicted on Tuesday 68 Islamists over allegations of a plot to overthrow the government.

Fifty-six of the suspects were jailed for between three and 10 years, while eight were sentenced in absentia to 15 years in prison.

Among those sentenced were lawyers, academics and members of prominent families in the UAE. Member of UAE's ruling family Sheikh Sultan bin Kayed Al-Qassimi and prominent human rights lawyer Mohammed al-Roken were two of the 56 present when convicted.

Of the total 94 accused of playing a role in the coup plot, another 26 people, including 13 women, were acquitted.

The trial, which had banned media from attending, was criticized by human rights groups that said the judge failed to investigate "credible" allegations of torture of defendants.

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Human Rights Watch condemned the convictions and the organization's Gulf researcher, Nick McGeehan, said they represented "another low point for the UAE's worsening human rights record."

"These verdicts cement the UAE's reputation as a serious abuser of basic human rights," McGeehan added.

All the defendants in the trial have denied the charges against them.

Many of the 94 are members of the al-Islah group, which the UAE says has links to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Islah has said, however, that it share some of the Egyptian group's ideologies, but does not have any organizational links to it.