UAE activists boycott ‘unfair’ trial
ABU DHABI FIVE pro-democracy activists alleging mistreatment refused to appear in an Emirati court on Sunday as their trial resumed in a hearing which was open to the public for the first time.
The police officer in charge of bringing the five defendants to the hearing told the State Security Court that they “refused to come,” without any further explanation, an AFP reporter said.
One of their lawyers, Mohammed al-Roken, told the court that the defendants accused of insulting top United Arab Emirates (UAE) officials refused to attend the hearing after their demands were not met.
The five men, four of whom are Emirati and one stateless, are demanding to “obtain all documents related to the trial, allow the defence to question all witnesses,” as well as an “end to their ill-treatment,” Roken told the court.
“They are denied their basic rights. Their rights were violated,” said Roken, as the wife of one of the defendants, Nasser bin Gaith, broke down in tears.
“They are treated worse than criminals,” he said.
The court, however, has accepted one of the defendants’ demands by opening the hearings to the public.
In a letter posted online on Saturday, economics lecturer Gaith said he had decided to boycott the trial after having agreed with his co-accused that they would not receive “a fair trial.” Sunday’s hearing, held under tight security measures, was also open to representatives of human rights groups, who have called for the immediate release of the five, saying their trial was “fundamentally unfair.” All four previous sessions since the trial opened on June 14 were held behind closed doors.
Blogger Ahmed Mansoor, Gaith who lectures at the Abu Dhabi branch of Sorbonne University, and activists Fahid Salim Dalk, Hassan Ali Khamis and Ahmed Abdul Khaleq were all detained in April.
“My husband isn’t a traitor.
My husband could never be a traitor to this country,” said Gaith’s wife Wedad al-Muhairi.
Muhairi said she was allowed to visit her husband every Sunday but Gaith refused to allow their 18-year-old son to see him “in this situation.”