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Six more activists sentenced to prison terms, fined

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo July 17, 2012 - ANHRI denounces the sentencing of six human rights activists on charges of insulting the Sultan. Their prison terms range from 12 to 18 months. ANHRI stated that “with this recent wave of jail sentences, it seems Oman is competing for the highest rank as the worst freedom violator.”

On 16 July 2012, the court of first instance in Khowair sentenced photographers Muhamed El-Habsi, Abdullah-El-Erimiand Abdul-bin-Salem El-Siabi to one year imprisonment as well as university students, Taleb El-Ibri, Mohamed El-Badi and Mona Sohil Hardan to one and half years' imprisonment for insulting the Sultan and violating the information law. They were also fined 1000 RO (approx. US$2600), per defendant, in addition to a 1000 RO (approx. US$2600) bond until the appeal date of September 15.

“The three activists who were sentenced to one year and six months will be released after one year since Omani law stipulates that the greater penalty shall revoke the minor penalty,” local activists mentioned to ANHRI.

Also, although the activists still have the opportunity to appeal and be acquitted, Omani authorities released photographs of the six activists in prison uniforms in the Oman News Agency and on national television. According to ANHRI, the publishing of such photographs violates article no. 30 of the Press and Publications in the media Law and is part of “a continuous attempt by the Omani authorities to tarnish the image of activists and strike fear in the hearts of any young man trying to oppose the rulers.” The photographs were published after the prosecution described the activists as a group of leading vandals.

A similar trial of five other activists, also accused of insulting the Sultan, was adjourned to 25 July 2012. Among the activists are: Bassam Abu- Qasyda, Hilal Al-Busaidi, Rashid Al-Badi, Essa Masoudi and Amina Al-Saadi.

ANHRI stated that “this wave of sentences against activists is putting Oman next to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain as the most repressive countries”

In addition to these sentences, a number of detainees are awaiting their turn to be prosecuted after being arrested in June, for participating in peaceful demonstrations, in solidarity with the prisoners of opinion via the social networks.

ANHRI calls for the immediate release of all prisoners of opinion and political detainees and stressed “the necessity that the Omani public prosecutor is fully independent from the Omani authorities to prove its integrity and that it is not used by the regime as a tool to silence the opponents and opinion makers.”
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