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Oman court puts off hearing for nine activists

Six protesters will have final hearing on January 2, 2013

Gulf News

Muscat: The Muscat Appeal Court on Wednesday adjourned hearing in case of nine activists to January 2, 2013, according to an activist under trial.

“Six of us are expecting judgement at the next hearing on January 2,” he told Gulf News on he condition of anonymity.

The judgement on Janaury 2 will be for leading Sohar-based activist and Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) employee, Esmail Al Muqabali as well as Mahmoud Al Jamoudi, Ishaq Al Aghbari, Ali Al Haji, Hassan Al Ruqaishi and Mukhtar Al Hinai.

He further pointed out that it would be the sixth hearing for them in the Appeal Court. The three others - Awadh Sawafi, Osama Al Thuwaiya and Ahmed Al I will also have their sixth hearing in Appeal Court on January 13 but the three-judge bench is not likely to give judgment on that day.

In last two weeks, the Appeal Court has upheld Primary court verdict in 29 cases, sending 28 people to prison for a jail term from six months to one year.

Al Jamoudi and Al Hinai are facing multiple counts, one for wrongful gathering at a public place and another for insulting the Sultan as well as violating the country’s cyber laws.

A strike by employees of contractors for oil field companies at Fahoud, Marmoul and other oil fields triggered events that led to arrests of over 40 activists and bloggers.

Esmail Al Muqabali, Habiba Al Hinai and Yaqoub Al Kharussi were the first arrested when they went to express their solidarity with the striking workers in Fahoud.

A series of demonstrations were held in Muscat to protest against their arrests after which security forces arrested demonstrators and also cracked down on bloggers and social media website members for posting objectionable writings that insulted the Sultan and violated the country’s cyber laws.