SUN 19 - 1 - 2020
Date: Mar 26, 2019
Source: The Daily Star
8 Lebanese Shiites face 'terrorism' trial in UAE: HRW
Agence France Presse
BEIRUT: Eight Lebanese citizens, all Shiite Muslims, have been charged with "terrorism" in the United Arab Emirates and denied legal representation in a trial "marred with violations," Human Rights Watch said Monday.

While the charges have not been made public, families of the eight men say they were charged with terrorism, according to New York-based HRW.

UAE media reported that they are linked to Hezbollah.

Although Hezbollah holds three Cabinet posts and 13 seats in Parliament, the UAE has blacklisted it as a terrorist organization.

A representative of the UAE government could not immediately be reached for comment.

Family members told HRW that the defendants had been held in solitary confinement for prolonged periods and denied legal representation and visits by their relatives.

"Time and again, the UAE has used the specter of terrorism to justify its utter lack of respect for the rule of law," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at HRW.

"By not respecting the rights of the defendants to a fair trial, the Emirati authorities are indicating that they have already decided the outcome."

All of the men on trial have lived and worked in the UAE for more than 15 years, seven of them for Dubai-owned Emirates Airlines, HRW said.

The eight men had been detained from December 2017 and February of last year and held for one year before their trial opened on Feb. 13, it said.

Family members told HRW that none of the men had any known political affiliations and their confessions were made under duress.

Leading English-language Gulf News daily on Feb. 13 reported that an Abu Dhabi court had charged 11 "Arabs," including three in absentia, with "setting up a terrorist cell and planning attacks in the UAE upon the orders of Lebanon's Hezbollah" and that they had communicated with the Shiite group in favor of Iran.

The next hearing is scheduled for March 27.

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