A Qatari poet jailed for encouraging the overthrow of the government has had his life sentenced reduced to 15 years by an appeals court in the Qatari capital.

Muhammad al-Ajami, 36, shouted insults at the courtroom and against the government of the Gulf state as he left the Doha court surrounded by armed security officials on Monday.

Najeeb al-Nuaimi, Ajami's lawyer, told Al Jazeera after the hearing that his client would now appeal against the verdict at the Court of Cassation, Qatar's highest court.

"It's a fixed trial and this shows the government is behind the justice system and that there isn't any independence," Nuaimi said. 

Ajami was jailed in November 2011 and charged with encouraging the overthrow of the government of Qatar, accusing the Emir of misusing the county's constitution and for criticising the country's crown prince.

In a 2011 poem, Ajami lauded the "Arab Spring" uprisings, and criticised Arab governments, writing, "... we are all Tunisians in the face of repressive elites."

The poet's sentence has been criticised by rights groups that have called for his release. 

Source: Al Jazeera