Abu Dhabi: The ongoing trial of 94 Emiratis charged with forming a clandestine group to overthrow the government will resume on April 16, Chief Justice Falah Al Hajiri of the State Security Court announced on Tuesday.
The court, part of the Federal Supreme court, on Tuesday heard testimony of a number of public prosecution witnesses and ordered the seized material evidence to be referred for the forensic Laboratory of the Dubai Police Criminal Investigation Department to issue a report on the audio files of the suspects.
The suspects, including two suspects who are still at large, are being tried on charges of threatening national security, forming a clandestine group aimed at opposing the political system of the country and overthrowing the government.
For the first time since the start of the trial, the court heard audio files and watched videos of a number of secret meeting conducted by the gorup.
During on Tuesday’s session, which lasted until 5:30pm, the presiding judge decided to refer the medical report of one of the female suspects, Fatima Al Za’abi, to the medical committee of Al Mafraq Hospital for a detailed report about her health problems in connection with her bail request for treatment abroad.
The court ordered to keep the male suspects in jail until the next hearing.
The prosecution contended that the audio files contained audio recordings of incitement and exhortations for the overthrow of the government. The court appointed 4 experts from the Ministry of Justice.
Two of the four experts are accountants, one is a financial expert, and one is an engineering expert. All of them will provide the court with evaluation of the evidence presented by the general prosecution office.
The first witness who took the stand on Tuesday from the National Security Agency testified that investigations and inquiries carried out in 2010 led the investigators to conclude that there was a clandestine organisation that was fully operational in the country.
The organisation had strong ties with the regional, Arabic and international Muslim Brotherhood organisations, the witness added. He also said that members of the organisation carefully planned to overthrow the government.
The witness added that members utilised other members’ connections, and also linked up with like-minded local and international organisations to carry out that mission. The witness also stated that the accused members established organisational structure that included a consultative (shura) council comprising of an assembly of key players within the organisation.
The witness also detailed that the organisational structure also included boards of directors, general secretariat, and committees and subcommittees.
The committees included education, training, student, social work, and financial sectors. The organisation was structured so that it had a cluster style of administration in which a central committee would administer 10 different subcommittees.
The subcommittees were for planning, legal affairs, debate, media, expatriates, financial, charity, training and investment, the witness testified.
The witness also declared that there was a parallel female organisational structure that followed the male organisation. The witness added that the presence of a committee of school-aged youth was the most dangerous committee.
This committee simply took up the mission of recruiting young children at a very young age and brainwashed them to become subordinates to the leaders of the organisation.
The witness also explained that the UAE group methodically taught the books, manuscripts and publications authored by Muslim Brotherhood leaders including the founder of the organisation, Hassan Al Banna ( 1906-1949) and Syed Qutb (1906-1966), the spiritual leader of the inception of the organisation, which proves its links with the international organisation.
As for the style of the organisation, the witness added that it focused on the secrecy of work and the declaration of Da’wa.
The accused UAE members of the organisation did have contacts and communications with the current leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood organisation to pledge allegiance and loyalty to them, and to earn political and media support from the leaders.
As for the financial aspects of the organisation, the witness also mentioned that the organisation established a “member subscription fee”.
The aim was to collect funds from the members through the financial committee; the fee was set between 5 to 7 per cent of the total income of the member.
“The regional officer then collects the funds, keeps 50 per cent for office spending, and transfers the remainder to the centralised committee in the group,” he said.
The witness said the clandestine operations of the organisation included establishing contacts with figures from the Brothehood organisation. international rights groups and activists in order to smear the government.
The witness also testified that the organisation had contacts with embassies of foreign countries to give them falsified and distorted information about the real conditions in UAE.
The hearing: Inside view
For the first time since the trial began, the defendants were allowed to wear the national dress. Throughout the session, they appeared to be in high spirits as they were smiling, exchanging jokes and chatting with their relatives.
In an unprecedented move since the trial began, screens were used to show documents relating to the case. The judge used a laptop to listen to recordings that had been copied from the suspects’ computers to hard disks and USB drives.
The recordings included seminars and sessions that the suspects had participated in. The audio and video files were submitted to the court as evidence against the suspects.
The defendants had big smiles on their faces and some laughed loudly when one witness told the court that the clandestine organisation went back to 2010. Their reaction resulted in a warning from the judge to stop making fun of any speaker or risk being expelled from the courtroom.
Lawyer Abdul Hamid Al Kumaiti questioned the witness and asked him to name the foreign diplomat who was in contact with one of the suspects. The witness replied that the defendant had been in contact with the American vice-consul in Dubai.
Defendant Mohammad Al Rokn thanked the judge for allowing the suspects to wear the national dress. He also appealed against what the witness said and rejected one of the charges against him, accusing him for filing a lawsuit against the country with an international agency.
The witness said the clandestine organisation made some changes on the terminologies used within it. For example, ‘Al Islah Group’ is used instead of the ‘Muslim Brotherhood’. ‘Associate member’ is used instead of ‘Associate brother’. The word ‘instructor’ is used instead of ‘guide’. The word ‘subscriptions’ is used instead of ‘donations’.
Lawyers questioned and belittled the importance of the witness’ testimonies, which stated that the defendants used certain books to teach youth about the organisation.
The books used were ‘The twenty origins’ by Hassan Al Banna, the founder of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, as well as ‘In the shadows of Quran’ by Syed Qutb, one of the scholars in Egypt’s Brotherhood.
Defendant Sultan Al Qasimi made a request to direct questions to the witness. His enquiries were regarding the accusation that the society of ‘Salah Al Thafeerin’ in Ras Al Khaimah had adopted the teachings of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The defendant asked if this was a violation of the law and questioned the right of people to gather, to discuss social topics. He also asked whether forming a society that deals with stressing moral issues is considered criminal.