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Oman court upholds sentence against 22

Prison for wrongful gathering and for insulting the Sultan

Gulf News

Muscat: The Appeal Court upheld Muscat Primary Court sentences against 22 Omani activists as well as netizens after the fourth hearing on Wednesday.

Literati, a lawyer and activists were among 11 sent to jail for six months and slapped with a 600 Omani riyals fine for wrongful gathering while the three-judge bench comprising judges Badar Al Rashid, Mohammed Al Akhzami and Al Mukhtar Al Harthi overturned another six month prison term for blocking traffic, against the 11.

The three- judge bench upheld part of the Primary court sentence against poet Saeed Al Hashmi, media personality Basma Al Rajhi, lawyer Basma Al Kiyumi, Mukhtar Al Hinai, Nasser Al Ghilani, Mohammad Al Shezari, Khaled Nawfali, Badar Al Jabri, Mohammad Al Jamoudi, Abdullah Al Ghilani and writer Mahmoud Al Rawahi, who recently won an award in Oman for best short novel writing.

Al Rawahi also got the Muscat Primary Court’s sentence of one-year prison term and 1000 riyals fine for insulting the Sultan upheld by the Appeal Court. However, according to a lawyer, he will have to spend only one year in prison.

Besides Al Rawahi, 11 others also had their appeal dismissed by the three-judge bench. Hamoud Al Rashdi (writer), Ali Hilal Al Muqbali (blogger), Hamad Al Kharousi (poet), Mohammad Al Habsi, Talib Al Abri, Abdullah Araimi, Abdullah Al Siyabi, Mohammad Al Baadi, Rashid Al Baadi and Muna Hardaan, who writes a blog under the pen name of Rose of Dhofar, will have to spend one year in prison and pay 1000 riyal fine.

All those whose sentence was upheld will go to high security Central Prison in Sumayil sometime next week.

Al Jamoudi, Al Hinai and Al Nawfali, who were sentenced for wrongful gathering, are also facing another case of insulting the Sultan and violation of country’s Cyber Laws.

The next hearing in Appeal Court will be on December 19 and some cases pending in Primary Court will be heard on December 26.

The lawyer for 11 convicted for wrongful gathering was confident before the fourth hearing that they had put up strong arguments before the date for judgement. In the final hearing, the three judges dismissed one charge of blocking traffic but upheld the charge of wrongful gathering.

The 11 were among a group that had protested in Muscat against the arrest of Esmail Al Muqabali, Habiba Al Hinai and Yaqoub Al Kharussi. The three were arrested when they went to Fahoud oil fields last May to show solidarity with the striking workers from contracting companies, working for two oil companies in the country.

The under trial activists and bloggers have so far attended 10 hearings, six in Primary Court and four in Appeal Court.