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Qatari doctor gets seven years in UAE jail

UAE's top court convicted Mahmoud al-Jaidah for allegedly having ties with and supporting an illegal organisation.

Last updated: 04 Mar 2014 04:33
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Amnesty International denounced the conviction and described the trial as “grossly unfair”

A Qatari physician received a seven-year jail sentence from a court in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday for supporting an illegal organisation, the UAE state news agency WAM said.

The Federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi found Mahmoud al-Jaidah guilty of "supporting the secret illegal organisation", which it did not name, and sentenced him to seven years in jail and deportation after he completes his term, WAM said.

UAE authorities detained al-Jaidah at Dubai airport while transiting through the Emirate on his way from Thailand to Qatar on February 26, 2013.

He was charged with supporting al-Islah, a group banned in the UAE for its alleged link to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Islah denies any such link.

"(Jaidah) supported the organisation financially and morally by contacting its leaders and trying to mediate differences within the group on administrative matters," the agency said.

Hassan al-Jaidah, the eldest son of the accused told Al Jazeera that his father was innocent and had no connection with the group.

"During one of the hearings, they even brought members of al-Islah to testify that my father had no connection to their group at all and the court still dismissed my father's innocence," Hassan al-Jaida told Al Jazeera.

"This case is baseless and the final verdict that came out today was completely unjust."

'Unfair trail'

Amnesty International decried the conviction, which it described as "a grossly unfair trial".

"Today's disgraceful sentencing of Mahmoud al-Jaidah is a farce and makes a mockery of the UAE's claim to be a progressive country that respects human rights.  He was arrested without a warrant, blindfolded and flung into solitary confinement before being repeatedly tortured, ill-treated and forced to sign papers he wasn't allowed to read," said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme.

"The evidence against him appears scant and his trial was marred by flaws. The charges he faced were politically motivated. He has become the latest victim of the UAE's deeply flawed judicial system. His conviction must be quashed and he must be immediately and unconditionally released. The unrelenting unfair trials in the UAE must end," said Said Boumedouha.

Torture claims

CAGE UK, an independent advocacy organisation that works on cases where prisoners are arbitrarily detained, told Al Jazeera that al-Jaidah reported torture and mistreatment while imprisoned.

"Dr al-Jaidah has reported torture and grave mistreatment during his imprisonment, including being forced to sit naked for hours on end in a deliberate attempt to humiliate him," said Cerie Bullivant, spokesman for CAGE. "The UAE authorities have failed to investigate these torture claims," Bullivant added.

Amnesty International last month called on Emirati authorities to release al-Jaidah and to investigate allegations that he was tortured in detention.

The rights group called his trial proceedings "grossly unfair" and said he had only been allowed to meet with his lawyer twice since the start of his trial, both times in the presence of state security officials.

Two Emirati citizens were also convicted of supporting the group and each received five-year sentences, WAM said.

In January, the same court convicted 30 Emiratis and Egyptians of forming an illegal branch of the Brotherhood and received jail terms of up to five years.

The court's rulings cannot be appealed.

Additional reporting from Al Jazeera's Ismaeel Naar.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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