Sunday, January 24, 2016

Canadian businessman of Libyan origin to be tried finally in UAE

Salim Alaradi, a Canadian of Libyan origin, was one of 10 Libya-connected businessmen who were arrested back in the summer of 2014. He has been detained in Abu Dhabi prison ever since.

It is still not clear what the charges will be but the case will be heard behind closed doors on January 18, so the charges should be known soon. The UAE is a strong supporter of CIA-linked Khalifa Haftar, the commander in chief of the Libyan National Army associated with the internationally-recognized House of Representatives (HoR) based in Tobruk. However, it also expresses support for the UN-sponsored Government of National Accord that should soon take over as the sole legitimate government. The role of Haftar in the new government is not yet clear. The UAE shares the anti-Islamist views of Haftar especially concerning the Muslim Brotherhood. The arrest of the 10 business men was probably designed to gain intelligence on the operation of Islamist groups in Libya especially in the areas controlled by the rival government the General National Congress in Tripoli. They may also have been attempting to recruit spies to gather intelligence.
After four months in prison, four of those arrested, including Salim's brother Mohamed, were released and deported to Turkey. He said that they were interrogated about different Libyan political groups. The Alaradi family claims that neither of the two brothers had any political affiliation. They ran an appliance business in Abu Dhabi for years. There is strong evidence that Alaradi was tortured while in prison and that this was known by Canadian authorities,as I discussed in an earlier article. The family also claims Salim has been prevented from communicating with them and has not had access to legal representation. However, he has had consular visits;
Alaradi's family has worked tirelessly to try and have Salim returned to Canada and have hired an Ottawa lawyer to help them out. On the accompanying video, Marwa, Salim's oldest daughter appealed to Justin Trudeau for his aid. The family has expressed cautious optimism that now that at least charges are to be laid and a trial to take place that Salim could possibly be released soon. Marwa said: "I feel happy because this is the first sign of hope that my father's case will come to an end and he will be reunited with our family again...My father has gone through a great injustice. The torture he was subjected to has been seen by the world."
The family claims both Salim and his brother suffered physical and psychological abuse during their time in prison. Both were said to have been hung from the ceiling, electrocuted, and starved. The UN special rapporteur on torture and forced disappearances has put in a request to visit the detainees and to investigate allegations of torture and abuse..
Alex Neve of Amnesty International Canada said Salim's supporters are not only concerned about torture allegations but about the fairness of the impending trial. The trial will be of four detainees including two who are U.S. citizens. Even the U.S. has been unable to gain the release of their citizens. The case will be heard in the State Security Chamber of the UAE Federal Supreme Court. Neve said Canadian officials had now become active on behalf of Aldaradi.
The Security Chamber has a terrible reputation. On multiple occasions it has failed to investigate allegations of torture prior to the trial. In one infamous case, the UAE 94 trial, in 1913, 94 defendants appeared en masse before the Chamber, charged with attempting to overthrow the government. They all pleaded innocence. Both human rights organizations and the UN claimed that defendants incriminated themselves through false confessions obtained through ill treatment and torture. A report on the trial by a number of Arab human rights groups said: "We further believe that the court, having heard the allegations of torture, failed to order any investigation of the allegations or to address them in any way." UAE officials claimed the accused were dealt with in accordance with the law. The group arrested included two prominent human rights lawyers, judges, teachers, and student leaders. The prosecution claimed that they were part of a group linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.
UAE justice appears to mimic that in some other Arab countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia by being particularly harsh in its treatment of anyone associated with the Muslim Brotherhood in even the most remote manner. However, the system also appears to be unpredictable as in its release of some of those accused earlier. Perhaps the UAE will see fit to try and improve its relationship with Canada and the US by eventually releasing the two Americans and Salim. On the other hand, it may convict all of the defendants to show the independence of their judiciary from foreign influence.

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