Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The trial begins

accused

The trial of the suspects from January's arrests began yesterday. Here's a round up from today's papers.

The editorial from the Oman daily Arabic paper:
بدأت أمس أولى جلسات محاكمة المعتقلين في قضية إنشاء تنظيم سري محظور، في ممارسة واضحة لمنهج الشفافية الذي اعتمدته الحكومة في التعامل مع قضية حساسة تمس أمن البلاد والعباد على السواء، وكانت قاعة محكمة أمن الدولة شاهدا على هذه الممارسة لعدالة القانون حيث وجد المتهمون محامين يتولون الدفاع عنهم وشهود على أنهم ينالون حقهم في توفر الأمان النفسي لهم لقول ما يريدون قوله أمام عدالة تتوخى منح المواطن حقه في الدفاع.

جاءت محاكمة الأمس لترد على من تشكك في عدالة القضاء العماني وشفافية التعامل مع الأحداث مهما بلغت درجة حساسيتها، وما صاحب مسألة الاعتقالات من تأن جاء لمصلحة المتهمين الذين قد ينالون التشهير في مجتمع صغير يكاد يعرف بعضه بعضا، ولا أدل على ذلك من أن ألسنة عديدة انطلقت لتعطي أحكاما بالبراءة لهؤلاء الذين اعترفوا أمس بكافة القرائن والأدلة التي وجهها ممثلو الادعاء العام إليهم، مقرين بأنهم أعضاء في تنظيم سري عمل طوال سنوات على استقطاب مجموعة من الأشخاص إليه، وشاهد الحضور من أعضاء في مجلسي الدولة والشورى والمحامين والصحفيين مشاهد الفيديو التي تظهر عمليات استخراج الأسلحة الآلية ولم يكن أمام المتهمين إلا الإقرار بذلك، فمنهم من التمس العفو على خطأ ارتكب لجهل وسوء تقدير ومنهم من انبرى منظرا لفكرة تبقى مستهجنة في بلد لم يقم فقط على تسامح ديني بل على مجموعة من العوامل التي أبقته بلدا للجميع كالتسامح القبلي والمذهبي والإنساني. وقف المتهمون أمس ليقولوا بملء أفواههم: نعم كان هناك تنظيم استدعى السرية، لكن السؤال الذي يواجههم: ما جدوى رشاشات الكلاشينكوف لنشر الدعوة الإسلامية وتبصير الناشئة بأصول مذهبهم؟.. ولمن ستنطلق تلك الرصاصات لو قدر لها أن تنطلق من فوهاتها؟
The English Oman Observer:
A special court started here yesterday the final session of investigation and trial of people charged with membership of a banned secret organisation arrested recently. The session was held in the presence of members of the Majlis Addawla and Majlis Ash'shura, representatives of the wilayats of the accused, their lawyers and some of their relatives, shaikhs and local media representatives. The president of the court and judges representing the Public Prosecution Department listened to the charges filed against the accused and accompanying evidence and reviewed the reports of corroboration of the accused.

The president of the court listened to the statements of the accused in response to the charges, interpretation of their legal confessions and the submissions made by their respective lawyers. The hearing was conducted in an orderly manner and the accused and their lawyers exchanged views. The president listened at length to the depositions of the accused, the questions directed to them by the lawyers and opinions of the representatives of the Public Prosecution Department.

Documentary footage of the evidence was screened, including evidence of the accused being in possession of arms. Some of the accused declined the services of the defence lawyers, placing their faith in the integrity of the judicial system and expressing the conviction that the court and judicial proceedings would be fair. A number of the accused regretted having joined the banned secret organisation and asked for forgiveness. The trial started at 9.15 am and concluded at 7 pm. The court listened to the statements of 10 of the accused and it will continue today for the rest of the accused.

The Times of Oman:
A designated court here started yesterday the final session of investigation and trial of people charged with membership of a banned secret organisation who were arrested recently.

The session was held in the presence of members of the Council of State and Majlis Al Shura, representatives of the wilayats of the accused, their lawyers and some of their relatives, sheikhs and local media representatives. The president of the court and judges representing the Public Prosecution department listened to the charges filed against the accused and accompanying evidence and reviewed the minutes of the investigation.

The president of the court listened to the statements of the accused in response to the charges, interpretation of their judicial confessions and the submissions made by their respective lawyers.

The hearing was conducted in an orderly manner and the accused and their lawyers exchanged views. The president listened at length to the explanations of the accused and the questions directed to them by the lawyers and the representatives of the Public Prosecution department. Documentary footage of the evidence was screened, including evidence of the accused being in possession of arms.

Some of the accused declined the services of lawyers, placing their faith in the integrity of the judicial system and expressing the conviction that the court and judicial proceedings would be fair. Some of the accused regretted having joined the banned secret organisation and asked for forgiveness. The trial started at 9.15am and concluded at 7pm. The court listened to the statements of 10 of the accused and it will continue the session today.

Hello?? Same exact article!

To be fair, the Times of Oman did continue with a lot more detail after that, none of which was mentioned in either of the government papers (Oman and the Observer) which you can read here. It includes brief summaries of what each of the defendents was accused of and what his defence was. The best information was in Al Shabiba, but unfortunatley their website's down.

But then comes the Gulf News' article which says:
Omani citizens detained last December for alleged subversive activities against the state went on trial yesterday.

However, human rights activists expressed scepticism over the fairness of the closed trial.

The media was banned from the trial.

According to the defence lawyer's office 10 accused went on trial yesterday, 10 more will be tried today and the trial of 10 others will be held tomorrow.

"In all there are 30 people on trial and we are defending them," a spokesperson for the Abdullah Hamoud Al Qasimi Law Firm told Gulf News yesterday.

Furthermore:

According to Abdullah Al Riyami, a human rights activist in Oman, only one relative of each of the accused was allowed to be present in the court.

Moreover, he added: "The relatives were not given enough notice regarding the date of the trial.

"The lawyer representing them has had only one meeting with the accused prior to the trial," he said, adding that the trial had begun but there were several loose ends and the whole thing appeared like a big secret.

So what do we take from all this?

Well, there was a trial. They finished with TEN people in one day and by now they should be done with another ten with ten left for tomorrow.

They all admit they were part of this secret organization related to the spreading of the ibadhi mathhab and the eventual return of rule in Oman to the imamate system, i.e. no Sultan. Yikes!

Weapons were found, but by the description in the paper there weren't that many other than a few guns with some of them. Maybe more with the other people who we'll know more tomorrow from today's trial.

I will refrain from commenting for the time being.

Updated (April 20, 2005)

The trial continued for a second day and by now the final ten should have also been done with.

Having followed the case in the papers the past two days I am still not able to grasp various aspects of the situation. This much is clear:

- There's been some sort of organization that was formed in 1982 concerned with the protection of the ibadhi sect. I don't understand what it needs to be protected from since ibadhis constitute approximately 45 or 50% of Oman's population and the ruling Al Said family is ibadhi.

- This organization yearns for the return of Oman to a system in which an ibadhi imam rules the country.

- The organization has a ruling council which is referred to as the Council of 8, since it has 8 members.

- The majority of the accused keep repeating the same nonsensical phrase:
إن التنظيم لحماية المذهب وليس للإطاحة بالدولة

However, the newspaper reports do not mention the names of anyone in the case and often substitutes names with just blank spaces. As usual in cases like this, I headed to Sablat Al Arab, and here's what I found. In this discussion the writer claims that the so-called organization was formed by our grand mufti himself, and that's why all names are deleted from the press!

Further, in today's Al Shabiba, which once again published the entire proceedings from yesterday's trial, one of the accused was questioned by a judge who asked him: "since you have left this organization because you disagreed with them and thought they were going to do harm, how come you never reported them to the authorities?" and the guy replied that he believes the authorities have their way of finding out what's happening in the country. This was apparently was also stated by one of the lawyers in the court yesterday who said what basically meant "how can there be a secret organization in Oman for 20 years without the internet security hearing about it?"

Too many questions... if these people didn't think they were doing anything wrong, then why the secrecy in their meetings and organization? If all they care about is their faith then why did they buy guns, even if the numbers were small- I mean what legitimate use could their ever be for an AK-47? And how come if they existed since 82 the authorities didn't do anything about them till now. There's no way they didn't know about them till now. Our mukhabarat is incredibly efficient. There's nothing they don't know. What happened in late 2004 that made the government decide to arrest these delusional psychopaths? Were these guys planning to turn their opposition violent?

I have no sympathy at all for them. I hope they get what's coming for them. I just wish we had some real press in this country and some transparency.

6 comments:

Sowhat said...

I heard they found large amount of weapons in diffrent welayat like Manah and Sur .. there alot of rumours nowadays abotu the whole thing nothing for sure ..

thanks for updating us Muscati

Kazablanka said...

Half of the people that were arrested worked with me!

I even had a crush on one of them.. :P

p.s. yeah i work in a terriorst place! :)

Sleepless In Muscat said...

Muscati...

just in case you didn't know they showed that news today in the Watan arabic newspaper...first page....or was it the Tribune..?

Anyhow, just thought I'd let you know man..

Lym said...

Muscati , Something did happen that made the police arrest them.
Lets just say that I had inside sources tell me so.
It is a big issue and I have no sympathy for them as well.
Never thought Omanis were capable of thinking about such crimes .

:S

Kazablanka said...

some of them are innocent LYM.. honestly, they look arrested some people from where i work.. young guys who i can swear have nothing to do with shit.. :(

Arabian Princess said...

Kaza, you can never be sure .. there are dozens of active religious people in the country who werent caught, it means who were caught did something.

Muscati, I think you should be satisfied with the press we have now .. everything comes in steps. 10 years back when the previous group was caught no publicity was given .. at least now .. the trial was pictured. I am not withing giving names, we are a small society where everyone is related to everyong .. being arrested is a humilation, its good to keep names blank.