UAE: Three Lebanese men receive heavy sentences, including life, despite grave fair trial concerns
Responding to the UAE Federal Court’s verdict into the case of eight Lebanese men, all Shi’a Muslims, sentencing one to life in prison, two to ten years, and acquitting five others following a trial marred by due process and fair trial concerns, Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, said:
“The absence of basic requirements of a fair trial – such as having access to a lawyer – strips today’s verdict of any reliability or credibility.
“The eight men were held in solitary confinement for over a year – this in itself can amount to torture. They were also denied access to their lawyers from the beginning of the trial; a number of the men claimed they had been tortured to sign so-called confessions but there have been no investigations into these claims. These details leave us with no confidence in the process that led to the conviction of the three men.
“It is welcome news that five men were acquitted; however, the authorities must now effectively investigate allegations of torture and quash the unreliable convictions of the remaining three. If there is not sufficient evidence against them and they cannot be prosecuted fairly, they too should be acquitted and released.”
“The flagrant disregard for human rights in this case is incongruous with the global image of a state-of-the-art, open and inclusive state that the authorities in the UAE seek to project.”
The eight Lebanese citizens were detained in the UAE between December 2017 and February 2018. They lived and worked in UAE for more than 15 years, seven of them worked with Emirates Airline.
All have been held in solitary confinement, charged with terrorism-related offences, and denied access to legal representation. A number of them have reported having been tortured in order to sign “confessions,” which they were not allowed to read. The charges they face include “forming a terrorist cell” and planning “terrorist” attacks in the UAE on orders of Hezbollah, a Shi’a political party and armed group based in Lebanon.