DUBAI (AFP) – A top United Arab Emirates court on Tuesday sentenced 64 Islamists to jail terms of up 15 years on charges of plotting to overthrow the government, while acquitting 25 others, Abu Dhabi television reported.
The Federal Supreme Court sentenced 56 of the 94 defendants to between seven and 10 years in prison, and jailed eight others tried in absentia for 15 years, the official television said. Twenty-five others were acquitted.
The fate of the remaining five was not immediately clear.
Prosecutors say the accused are linked to the Al-Islah group, which has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Political movements are banned in the UAE.
Their trial was the largest in the history of the UAE, which has not seen any of the widespread pro-reform protests that have swept other Arab states, although authorities have cracked down on dissent and calls for democratic reform.
The defendants, among them lawyers, university professors and students, were arrested between March and December 2012 for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government.
Rights groups have alleged some of the detainees had been subjected to systematic mistreatment including torture.
Only selected relatives of the defendants, local journalists and representatives of human rights groups were allowed to attend the trial at the country's top security court.
UAE attorney general Salem Kobaish in February said the defendants would be tried for "having created and led a movement aimed at opposing the basic foundations on which the state's political system is built and at seizing power".
The group had formed a "secret organisation" which was in contact with individuals and organisations "abroad", including the Brotherhood, and had also created or invested in real estate firms to finance their organisation, he said.