Emirati coup trial raises rights concerns

March 4, 2013 at 12:01 PM
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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, March 4 (UPI) -- Human rights groups say a trial for Islamists suspected of plotting against the Emirati government is unjust, though Abu Dhabi maintains it has good reason.

Members of religious group al-Islah, which has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, are on trial for charges of plotting to overthrow the UAE government. An Emirati activist told the BBC on condition of anonymity there was no justification for the charges against the 94 suspects.

The suspects have been held since November on charges of working to replace the government with one based on a strict interpretation of Islamic law. The activist said the charges were "illegal" as none of the accused was afforded the right to private legal consultations.

A statement from the Emirati attorney general's office said the suspects were being "dealt with according to the rule of law."

Nicholas McGeehan, a Middle East consultant at Human Rights Watch, told the BBC there wasn't much to support the government's claims, however.

"As far as we are aware al-Islah is a peaceful civil society that advocates a government based on more traditional Islamic precepts," he said.

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