UAE court hears Islamists accused of plotting to seize power
ABU DHABI - The Federal Supreme Court of Abu Dhabi on Monday heard the lawyers of 94 Islamists accused of plotting to seize power in the United Arab Emirates before scheduling the next sessions to March 18 and 19.
Eighty-five Islamists including 12 women appeared in court, for the second hearing in the largest trial in the history of the UAE, state news agency WAM reported quoting the justice ministry.
It said the session was held in the absence of international media and human rights groups, adding that 21 local journalists and six representatives of pro-government NGOs were present in court.
Ten defendants are being tried in absentia, while local media reported that the arrested women were released on bail in the first hearing on March 4.
On Monday the court heard the defence team and their requests, WAM reported, adding that the next sessions will be held on March 18 and 19.
The prosecutors say that the accused are linked to Al-Islah group, which has ties with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
UAE attorney general Salem Kobaish last month said the defendants would be tried for "having created and led a movement aimed at opposing the basic foundations on which the state's political system is built and at seizing power".
The group had formed a "secret organisation" which was in contact with individuals and organisations "abroad", including the Brotherhood, and had also created or invested in real estate firms to finance their organisation, he said.
Human Rights Watch on Monday said the UAE "should guarantee the safety" of the defendants and set up an independent probe into their "allegations of ill-treatment in detention."
It also urged the UAE to ensure a "fair hearing" by allowing international rights groups attend the hearings.
"The UAE authorities seem intent on keeping this trial as much under wraps as they can," HRW's Middle East Director Sarah Leah Whitson in a statement.
The UAE has not seen any of the widespread pro-reform protests which have swept other Arab countries, including fellow Gulf states Bahrain and Oman.
Dubai police chief General Dahi Khalfan has accused the Brotherhood of plotting against Gulf monarchies.