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Emirati convictions criticized

July 2, 2013 at 12:24 PM

LONDON, July 2 (UPI) -- The conviction of more than 60 people in the United Arab Emirates on charges of plotting against the government is regrettable, Amnesty International said.

An Emirati court handed out prison sentences ranging from seven to 15 years for more than 60 people accused of plotting to overthrow the government. Prosecutors said the alleged saboteurs were affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, a conservative Sunni political organization.

AI Deputy Director of Middle East Programs Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui said Tuesday the trial was marred by allegations of torture and a general disregard for a conventional respect for fairness.

"Not only do the defendants appear to have been targeted simply because of their views, but they have been convicted on bogus charges and denied the basic right to a fair trial," he said in a statement. "The only thing this trial shows is the fundamental flaws in the U.A.E. justice system."

Those accused by the Emirati government told AI they believed the sentences were politically motivated.

AI called for the immediate and unconditional release of the people detained "solely for expressing their views."

The April arrest of at least seven Arab nationals thought to be affiliated with al-Qaida was criticized by rights groups as a likely act of government repression.

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