Abu Dhabi:

The hearing of a group of Emiratis accused of forming a clandestine organisation to destabilise state security will resume on April 30 following a four-hour session during which the presiding judge, Falah Al Hajiri, decided to allow one of the female suspects to go abroad for treatment as her health condition requires special medical attention.

At the beginning of yesterday’s session, the judge reprimanded one of the newspapers and its representative in the court — without naming them — for crossing the limits of free expression by trying to incite public opinion. The judge said the suspects are considered innocent until the court convicts them.

The sixth hearing of the case was held yesterday at the State Security Court, part of the Federal Supreme Court.

Seventy-three male defendants and 13 female defendants appeared yesterday before Al Hajiri. Also present were 133 members of the defendants’ families, 20 representatives from media institutions, seven representatives from civil society organisations (four from the Emirates Human Rights Association, two from the Emirates Jurists Association and one from the Emirates Sociologists Association), six defence lawyers and five public prosecutors, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Justice.

The judge said the court needs to examine reports due to be presented by the forensic lab of Dubai Police on audio and video recordings submitted by the prosecutors to the court. The court also said that it will examine the reports by the finance committee appointed to examine the financial status of the companies managed by the suspects on behalf of the clandestine group.

The group is accused of working to overthrow the government and threaten UAE national security.

In a humanitarian move by the court, the judge also ordered the release of the passport of one of the accused women, Fatima Al Za’abi, in order to go abroad for further medical attention and treatment.

The court decision was based on medical reports from Al Mafraq Hospital.

The judge also ordered allowing the defence lawyers to call their witnesses to court in forthcoming sessions.

The judge approved renewal of bail of the female suspects in the case while ordering male suspects to remain in custody.

Yesterday’s hearing was primarily held to discuss the requests submitted by the defence lawyer and some of the accused.

Judge Al Hajiri started by reading the Dubai Police Forensics laboratory’s request for more time to finalise the examination report of the audio and visual evidence.

He also read the medical report submitted by Al Mafraq Hospital regarding the health status of Fatima Al Za’abi.

The defence lawyer, Abdul Hamid Al Kumaiti, urged the court to allow his clients full access to the case files. He also asked for a copy of the criminal law in the UAE.

The attorney general, Al Kumaiti said, rejected his repeated requests to grant access to the case file despite the court’s permission at previous hearings.

Al Kumaiti also complained that he was not allowed to meet his clients. He also requested that security officials who conducted the initial inquiries be called to court as defence witnesses to allow for cross-examination.

Al Kumaiti requested that the passport authorities provide official entry/departure lists for two of the accused to show that the two were in fact out of the country during the meetings of leaders of the group.

He also asked that two of his clients undergo psychiatric and physical evaluation and urged the court to classify the companies owned by some of the defendants as “accused companies” so that the companies can appoint appropriate lawyers in their defence, a move, Al Kumaiti said, in accordance with the law wherein companies are granted corporate entity which allows them the right to defend themselves against any kind of accusations.

Judge Al Hajiri ordered the attorney-general to provide the accused a copy of the case’s file and a copy of the UAE criminal law.

The attorney- general, however, said the main charge brought against the companies was that the source of their assets was used for illegal activities, and as such were confiscated.

Lawyer Hamdan Al Ziyoudi also urged the court to provide a copy of the case files and the criminal law of the UAE on a CD, and to provide each of the accused laptops to view the files. He also urged the court to be able to meet with his clients without any glass barriers.

Lawyer Jasem Al Naqbi stated that the attorney general had ordered putting 309 individuals under surveillance but none of the suspects he is representing was on that list. He questioned the basis on which his clients were arrested and referred to court for trial.

Al Naqbi also urged the court to allow him to question a number of clients in front of the court to prove they were innocent.

Lawyer Ali Al Haddad asked to examine two of the accused, whereas advocate Mohammad Ahmad Al Za’abi asked to interview security officials who presented their statements in the previous sessions.

Before ending the session, Judge Al Hajiri allowed four suspects, Eisa Al Suwaidi, Khamis Al Summ, Mohammad Al Roknn, and Adnan Julfar to speak for 15 minutes each to hear their defence.

Al Rokn specifically asked for a special hearing session which allows the accused to freely express their views and defend themselves.

He also asked for a copy of the criminal law of the UAE, and of the case’s files, accusing the attorney-general of deliberately avoiding implementing the court order in previous hearings.

Al Rokn urged the court to grant him the right to stand in his own defence as per UAE laws.

Al Rokn added that the court must appoint someone from the attorney general’s office, or ask an impartial agency to investigate claims of torture of some of the suspects.

Adnan Julfar, one of the suspects, stated that the attorney general forced him to sign a confession after putting him through immense physical and psychological pressure.

Eisa Al Suwaidi, on the other hand, claimed that the attorney-general falsified statements that he never made.