Oct. 2 - Five political activists being tried in the UAE on charges of insulting the country's leaders boycott trial claiming mistreatment in prison. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
No day in court for five political activists being tried in the United Arab Emirates on charges of insulting the country's leaders as they refuse to attend a court hearing, protesting against alleged mistreatment. Human Rights Watch Officer Samer Muscati. SOUNDBITE: Human Rights Watch Officer Samer Muscati, saying: (English): "The activists didn't show up, they feel by participating in the trial they are actually giving the trial legitimacy and so far none of their concerns have been met except for opening the trial, the evidence that had been used against the activists has actually not been shown to the activists, they don't know exactly what the evidence is against them. The lawyers have not had a chance to cross examine the witnesses. They have been held in prison for almost six months now and they have no right to appeal. So there is really some fundamental problems with the quality of justice in this case and I think that the accused realise that by showing up or now showing up, perhaps the judgement will be the same and it's already been written." The men are suspected of inciting "acts that threaten state security and public order", and "insulting the president, vice president and the crown prince of Abu Dhabi". The wife of accused activist Nasser bin Ghaith. SOUNDBITE: Wife of accused activist Nasser bin Ghaith, Wedad al-Muhairi, saying: (Arabic): "I will not believe in the justice of the trial until Nasser is released, because I don't believe someone like Nasser should be in this position. This man since he was young, has done everything to serve his country, he will continue that today, tomorrow and the day he is released. This man is not against anyone, he repeats this to me every time I see him in prison, 'I am not against anyone, I haven't insulted anyone' he tells me." Some government supporters says that the activists went too far. Emirati poet, abdul karim al marzouqi, SAYING: SOUNDBITE: Emirati poet, Abdul Karim al Marzouqi, saying: (Arabic): "Some think we are against freedom of expression but this is not true because everyone is free to express their opinions, in newspapers, in TV, writing columns, but we are against insulting the leaders of the country. The court here is not trying Ahmed Mansoor because he expressed his opinion, no, the issue is not about an opinion and having an opinion as it might seem to some, the issue is about insulting the leaders of the country." One of the defendants started an online petition demanding the country's Federal National Council greater powers. The petition also called for the right to vote for all citizens The hearing was made public for the media and representatives of rights groups for the first time since the trial began in June. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters