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Lebanese citizen receives life sentence in 'unfair' UAE terrorism trial

The UAE trial was based on confessions obtained under torture, according to Amnesty [Getty]

Date of publication: 15 May, 2019

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The terrorism trial of eight Lebanese citizens detained in the United Arab Emirates is unfair and based on fabricated confessions obtained under torture, Amnesty International says.
A Lebanese man held in the United Arab Emirates on charges of terrorism has been sentenced to life in prison, while two others received heavy sentences and five were ordered released.

Abdulrahman Chouman, 39, was handed a life sentence on Wednesday in a state security court in the Emirates.

Chouman was charged with being one of the leaders of a terrorist cell with links to Lebanon's Hizbollah group, according to a relative.

Two others were sentenced to 10 years while five were acquitted.

Amnesty International has slammed the proceedings "marred by due process and fair trial concerns".

"The eight men were held in solitary confinement for over a year – this in itself can amount to torture," said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International's Middle East Research Director.

"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."

The rights group welcomed the acquittal of five men but called on Emirati authorities to investigate the torture allegations and reconsider the remaining three harsh sentences.

"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," said Maalouf.

The eight men, Shia and long-time residents of Emirates, were detained over a year ago.

Seven of the eight men, Chouman included, worked with Emirates Airline.

As a safety and security trainer for the airline, Chouman had documents on his laptop for training his colleagues on possible attack scenarious.

"These were part of the accusation that he was planning an attack on the airport," said Sima Watling, a researcher for Amnesty International.

The charges against them include "forming a terrorist cell" and planning "terrorist" attacks in the UAE on orders of Hezbollah, a Shia political party and armed group based in Lebanon.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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