UAE hands down heavy jail terms to 3 Hezbollah-linked Lebanese citizens
Story Code : 794544
On Wednesday, the Federal Supreme Court put eight Lebanese nationals, all Shia Muslims, on trial on terrorism-related charges.
Amnesty International said five of the defendants were acquitted of the charges. The court, which is the highest judicial authority in the Persian Gulf Arab country, sentenced one man to life imprisonment and two others to ten years each.
“The absence of basic requirements of a fair trial, such as having access to a lawyer, strips today's verdict of any reliability or credibility,” Amnesty's Middle East Research Director, Lynn Maalouf, said in a statement.
She added, “The eight men were held in solitary confinement for over a year – this in itself can amount to torture. They were also denied access to their lawyers from the beginning of the trial; a number of the men claimed they had been tortured to sign so-called confessions but there have been no investigations into these claims.”
“These details leave us with no confidence in the process that led to the conviction of the three men,” Maalouf noted.
All of the Lebanese men, who stood on trial on Wednesday, had lived and worked in the UAE for more than 15 years, seven of them for Dubai-owned Emirates Airlines, according to Human Rights Watch.
They were detained between December 2017 and February last year, and held for one year before their trial opened on February 13.
During an April 3 session at the state security chamber of the Federal Appeal Court in Abu Dhabi, one of the men, identified as Abdel Rahman Talal Chouman, described how he was tortured for six hours at a time and forced to sign a confession he was not even given a chance to read.
In a Ramadan message to his Emirati counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and President Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil had demanded a special pardon for the eight Lebanese citizens, in addition to three other convicts.
Even though Hezbollah holds three cabinet posts and has 13 seats in the Lebanese parliament, it has been blacklisted as a "terrorist" organization by the UAE.
On October 31, 2016, a court in the UAE sentenced seven people to up to life in prison for establishing a cell linked to Hezbollah.
State news agency WAM reported that an Emirati man and two Lebanese men were handed life sentences and an Egyptian woman and another Emirati man were each jailed for 10 years.
An Iraqi and another Lebanese man were each jailed for 15 years as well.
The charges included “handing over information about a government department” and “oil production in the UAE” as well as “maps of a gas field” to Hezbollah.