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43 sentenced to life in prison following heavily-scrutinized UAE trial

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43 sentenced to life in prison following heavily-scrutinized UAE trial

A mass trial of dissidents in the United Arab Emirates sentenced 43 people to life in prison on Wednesday while several other defendants received long prison terms in a case that has been widely criticized by activists abroad.

The sentences given by the Abu Dhabi Federal Court of Appeal came in a case described by the UAE government as involving the Muslim Brotherhood, a pan-Islamic organization declared a terrorist group by the Emirates. Activists, however, decried the case as targeting dissidents, something that drew attention and protests at the United Nations COP28 climate talks held in Dubai in November.

The state-run WAM news agency reported the verdicts after human rights activists said the sentences had been handed down. Five defendants received 15-year sentences while five others received 10-year sentences. Another 24 defendants had their cases dismissed, WAM reported.

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The court ruled that those convicted “have worked to create and replicate violent events in the country, similar to what has occurred in other Arab states — including protests and clashes between the security forces and protesting crowds — that led to deaths and injuries and to the destruction of facilities, as well as the consequent spread of panic and terror among people,” WAM said.

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The agency reported on no specific evidence the court cited tying those convicted to violence or the Brotherhood.

The verdict, which can be appealed to the UAE’s Federal Supreme Court, drew immediate criticism abroad.

“These over-the-top long sentences make a mockery of justice and are another nail in the coffin for the UAE’s nascent civil society,” said Joey Shea, a researcher focusing on the UAE for Human Rights Watch. “The UAE has dragged scores of its most dedicated human rights defenders and civil society members through a shamelessly unfair trial riddled with due process violations and torture allegations.”

FILE – Activists hold signs during a demonstration for Egypt’s jailed leading pro-democracy activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah and Mohamed al-Siddiq, jailed activist, at the COP28 U.N. Climate Summit, Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. A mass trial in the United Arab Emirates of dissidents that has faced widespread criticism abroad ended Wednesday July 10, 2024 with dozens of people sentenced to life in prison, activists said. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool, File)

The Emirates Detainees Advocacy Center, an advocacy group in exile, separately reported that sentences had been handed down.

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“Regrettably, these sentences were entirely foreseeable,” center director Mohamed al-Zaabi said. “From the outset, it was clear that this trial was merely a facade designed to perpetuate the detention of prisoners of conscience even after their sentences had been served.”

Amnesty International also criticized the sentences, saying the defendants had “been held in prolonged solitary confinement, deprived of contact with their families and lawyers and subjected to sleep deprivation through continuous exposure to loud music.” Those tried also were “forbidden from receiving the most basic court documents,” it said.

“The trial has been a shameless parody of justice and violated multiple fundamental principles of law, including the principle that you cannot try the same person twice for the same crime, and the principle that you cannot punish people retroactively under laws that didn’t exist at the time of the alleged offense,” said Devin Kenney, an Amnesty International researcher.

Kenney described some of those tried as “prisoners of conscience and well-known human rights defenders.”

WAM did not identify those sentenced. But among those who received life sentences is activist Nasser bin Ghaith, an academic held since August 2015 over his social media posts, Shea said.

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He was among dozens of people sentenced in the wake of a wide-ranging crackdown in the UAE following the 2011 Arab Spring protests. Those demonstrations saw Islamists, including Brotherhood member Mohammed Morsi in Egypt, rise to power in several Mideast nations.

The Gulf Arab states did not experience any popular overthrow of their governments and cracked down against demonstrators and those perceived to be dissenters.

Also among those who were likely sentenced Wednesday is Ahmed Mansoor, the recipient of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in 2015. Mansoor repeatedly drew the ire of authorities in the UAE by calling for a free press and democratic freedoms in the federation of seven sheikhdoms.

Mansoor was targeted with Israeli spyware on his iPhone in 2016 likely deployed by the Emirati government ahead of his 2017 arrest and sentencing to 10 years in prison over his activism.

During COP28, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch held a demonstration in which they displayed Mansoor’s face in the U.N.-administered Blue Zone at the summit in a protest carefully watched by Emirati officials.

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The UAE, while socially liberal in many regards compared with its Middle Eastern neighbors, has strict laws governing expression and bans political parties and labor unions. That was seen at COP28, where there were none of the typical protests outside of the venue as activists worried about the country’s vast network of surveillance cameras.

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Exclusive-Logistics Giant Lineage Raises $4.45 Billion in Biggest IPO in 2024

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Exclusive-Logistics Giant Lineage Raises .45 Billion in Biggest IPO in 2024
By Echo Wang NEW YORK (Reuters) – Lineage, the world’s largest operator of cold-storage warehouses, raised $4.45 billion in its U.S. initial public offering, setting it up for the biggest stock market debut globally this year, two people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday. The Novi,
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Death toll reaches 6 in Mexican tequila distillery blast

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Death toll reaches 6 in Mexican tequila distillery blast

Rescue teams on Wednesday found another body at a tequila distillery in Mexico a day after an explosion and fire, bringing the death toll to six. Two workers were injured.

The factory belongs to the Jose Cuervo company, one of Mexico’s most famous tequila brands.

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The local civil defense posted on X that the latest body was found in a waste area where large containers had collapsed.

A Mexican flag waves in front of The National Palace, the office of the president, in Mexico City’s main square, the Zocalo, at sunrise, April 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

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The company on Tuesday said the explosion occurred as employees were carrying out maintenance work. Authorities on Tuesday night said the situation was under control, but on Wednesday morning a fire broke out in a storage area with cardboard and other materials.

The town of Tequila is about 375 miles northwest of Mexico City. Overlooked by a volcano and surrounded by plantations of agave, the plant from which the liquor is produced, life in the municipality of 40,000 residents revolves around tequila production and the tourism it generates.

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Paris Olympics: Pitch stormings and Israel jeering marr opening games

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Paris Olympics: Pitch stormings and Israel jeering marr opening games

Paris Olympics day one summary and scores. Argentina-Morocco football game suspended for nearly two hours amid pitch invasions, as Israel’s national anthem jeered loudly before Mali clash in Paris.

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The Paris 2024 Olympic Games opened with a surprising 2-1 victory by Morocco’s men’s football team against pan-American champions Argentina, in Saint-Étienne, in a chaotic game that was suspended for nearly two hours after multiple individuals stormed the pitch.

Another stunning result came from Bordeaux, where Japan thrashed Paraguay 5-0, while France pleased the home crowds with a comfortable 3-0 win over the US.

The hosts got off to a less sparkling start in men’s rugby sevens, as they beat Uruguay 19 to 12 but tied with the US 12-12.

Tokyo 2020 gold medallists Fiji defeated the US too, 38-12, as well as Uruguay, 40-12, while Ireland overcame reigning world champions South Africa 10 to 5, who also lost to New Zealand 17-5.

Full football and rugby scores below.

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Israel’s national anthem loudly jeered before football clash against Mali

Israel’s national anthem was loudly jeered before the kick-off of their opening Olympic game against Mali at Paris Parc des Princes in Paris on Wednesday.

The game began with a massive security presence outside the stadium amid an increasingly strained international climate that has France’s safety efforts squarely in the spotlight.

The Israeli team arrived under a heavy police escort, with motorbike riders at the front and about a dozen riot police vans following behind.

Armed police officers patrolled the Parc des Princes stadium, although the atmosphere outside the venue was calmer.

Mali fans sang proudly when their anthem was played first. When it came to Israel’s anthem, boos and whistles immediately rang out. The stadium speaker system playing the anthems then got notably louder in what seemed like an effort to drown out the jeers.

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Once play began, Israeli players were booed each time they touched the ball. Security officials intervened in what appeared to be a heated argument between some fans.

Several fans on the Mali stands were holding Palestinian flags.

Morocco stun pan-American champions Argentina following nearly two-hour game suspension

Morocco secured a wild 2-1 win over Argentina at the start of the Olympic men’s football tournament on Wednesday – but not before furious fans invaded the pitch to protest what appeared to be an equaliser in the 16th-minute of stoppage time.

Objects were thrown onto the field and security had to restrain fans, causing the game in Saint-Etienne to be suspended for nearly two hours and the crowd being told to leave the stadium.

The goal was eventually ruled offside just before play resumed, sparking celebrations from Morocco players as the final minutes concluded.

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It was a chaotic and dramatic start to the tournament after Argentina, which won gold medals at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, and are viewed as the favourites in France, mounted a comeback after going 2-0 down on goals from Soufiane Rahimi.

Giuliano Simeone struck in the 68th minute and Argentina peppered Morocco goalkeeper Munir El Kajoui with shots before Medina’s header from close range appeared to tie it.

That caused outrage from Morocco fans, who rushed the field, while others threw trash, and the game was officially put on hold.

Rahimi had put Morocco ahead in first-half stoppage time, then converted on a penalty kick in the 49th, which proved to be the decisive goal against an Argentina team that included four members of the squad that won the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

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Hosts France off to good start in football

Stunning goals from Alexandre Lacazette and Michael Olise helped France to a 3-0 victory over the United States. Loic Bade added the third with a late header to seal a win that had looked in doubt until former Arsenal striker Lacazette struck with a long-range effort in the 61st minute in Marseille.

The host nation had to ride their luck against an American team that saw a shot from Djordje Mihailovic hit the crossbar when the game was still goalless. Lacazette’s goal came almost immediately after.

Paris Olympics day 1 results

Men’s Football, group stage

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  • Argentina 1-2 Morocco
  • Uzbekistan 1-2 Spain
  • Guinea-New 1-2 Zealand
  • Egypt 0-0 Dominican Republic
  • Iraq 2-1 Ukraine
  • Japan 5-0 Paraguay
  • France 3-0 US
  • Mali 1-1 Israel

Rugby sevens, men’s pool

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  • Australia 21-14 Samoa
  • Argentina 31-12 Kenya
  • France 12-12 US
  • Fiji 40-12 Uruguay
  • Ireland 10-5 South Africa
  • New Zealand 40-12 Japan
  • Australia 21-17 Kenya
  • Argentina 28-12 Samoa
  • France 19-12 Uruguay
  • Fiji 38-12 US
  • Ireland 40-5 Japan
  • New Zealand 17-5 South Africa
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