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UAE orders trial of 84 on 'terrorism' charges

Trial is being held a decade after 94 government critics, activists, lawyers, students were tried over links to Muslim Brotherhood
The Emirati flag sways in the wind, with the Dubai skyline in the background, on 3 June 2022 (AFP)

The United Arab Emirates is to try 84 people for terror-related offences, state media said on Saturday, a decade after a similar mass trial of government critics.

The Emirati attorney general ordered the trial of "mostly members of the terrorist organisation of [the] Muslim Brotherhood", official news agency Wam said.

The State Security Court has started hearing witness testimonies and the public trial procedures are underway, Emirati authorities said, adding that the defendants had been given legal representation.

In 2013, the UAE tried 94 activists, lawyers, students, teachers and government critics, accusing them of membership of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

Sixty-nine people were jailed at the time, and many are still in prison. Some are to be charged in the new trial, according to Wam.

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The defendants are accused of "establishing another clandestine organisation for the purpose of committing acts of violence and terrorism on UAE soil", the news agency said.

"The defendants had concealed this crime and its evidence before they were arrested and tried" in 2013, it added.

“Sufficient evidence” has been uncovered in a six-month investigation, warranting the attorney general to pursue a new trial.

In December, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the defendants were being persecuted "in retaliation for forming an independent advocacy group in 2010".

HRW said charges were also brought against other imprisoned dissidents. Among them is human rights campaigner Ahmed Mansour, who was sentenced in 2018 to 10 years in prison for criticising the government and tarnishing the country's image on social media.

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