UAE court verdict on mass trial of Islamists on July 2

An Abu Dhabi court will announce on July 2 its verdict in the trial of dozens of Emirati Islamists accused of plotting to seize power in the Gulf country, state news agency WAM reported Tuesday.

A total of 94 dissidents, eight of whom are tried in absentia, are on trial on charges of forming an organisation with an aim to seize power.

The defendants, which include 13 women, are said to be linked to Al-Islah group which has links with the Muslim Brotherhood.

On Tuesday 85 defendants, including 12 women, appeared before the state security court in Abu Dhabi as defence lawyers presented their arguments at the hearing, WAM said.

The court "will announce its verdict on July 2," said WAM.

The women had been released on bail and one of them was allowed to seek medical treatment abroad.

The detainees, arrested between March and December 2012, had pledged allegeance to the rulers of the United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven sheikhdoms, and urged the president to lift a ban on Al-Islah.

They include lawyers, university professors and students.

Only some relatives of the defendants, local journalists and human rights groups are allowed to attend the trial at the country's top security court.

The defendants earlier this month publicly appealed to President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan to probe their alleged torture in custody and denied the charges.

"We were unjustly accused of plotting to seize power," they wrote in their appeal.

The Gulf country has come under wide criticism from international rights groups as well as a US State Department rights report over the arrests.

The trial is 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. However, authorities have boosted a crackdown on dissent and calls for democratic reform.