The United Arab Emirates has issued arbitrary sentences to six Lebanese on “terrorism” charge, in a violation of the demands of international human rights organizations for their immediate release and the end of their unfair trial.
The Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported that an Emirati court sentenced six Lebanese, four of them to life imprisonment, for “forming a terrorist cell belonging to the Hezbollah group in Lebanon.”
The Abu Dhabi Court of Appeal sentenced the two defendants to 10 years in prison and acquitted five others, the agency said.
The UAE, along with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait, listed Hezbollah as a terrorist organization in 2016 and warned its citizens and expatriates to have no connection to the group.
The 11 suspects were arrested in late 2017 and early 2018. All of them are Shiites who have lived in the UAE and worked there for more than 15 years. They were charged in February with forming a “terrorist cell belonging to the Hezbollah group,” backed by Iran.
Human rights groups said the trials lacked integrity. Amnesty International reported that eight of the defendants had been held incommunicado for more than a year, which could amount to torture.
“They were denied access to lawyers during the pre-trial interrogation and investigation phase,” said Lynn Maalouf, director of research for the Middle East at Amnesty International. “A number of the men claimed they had been tortured to sign so-called confessions but there have been no investigations into these claims.”
Earlier, the UAE media reported that the group was accused of plotting to blow up a vital facility in the UAE under Hezbollah’s orders.
In 2016, a UAE court sentenced seven people to life imprisonment for forming a cell linked to Hezbollah.
The UAE does not tolerate public criticism of its policies or ruling families and is fighting a war against political Islam.
The practices of the UAE, arbitrary detentions of expatriates, in particular, are regularly criticized by the United Nations and international human rights organizations.
It is widely believed that the UAE uses broad and unfair sentences in unfair trials and does not rely on legal evidence to punish those who have access to excessive prison sentences.