Lawyers of men previously on trial for terrorism challenge amended charges

Lawyers for the four Libyan men who were previously on trial for terrorism charges have challenged the lesser charges against them.

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ABU DHABI // Lawyers for the four Libyan men previously on trial for terrorism charges have challenged the lesser charges against them.

“My client is innocent and terrorism charges were dropped. The new charges are nothing but a ploy by the prosecution to convict my client,” said Dr Fahad Al Sabhan, who was representing two of the four defendants.

Last month, terrorism charges against Salim Alaradi, 47, a Libyan-Canadian, Kamal Eldarat, 55, his son Mohammad, 34, both Libyan-Americans, and Essa Umran Al Manna, 66, a Libyan, were dropped by the prosecution. Charges of supporting and funding terrorist organisations were amended to engaging in hostilities against a foreign country, Libya, and raising funds without approval.

“Raising funds without approval is a matter that deals with non-profit organisations and is a mistake if anything, but my clients have already spent over a year in prison” said Dr Al Sabhan, representing Kamal and Mohammad Eldarat.

Dr Al Sabhan also refuted claims that his clients had broken any Libyan laws.

“Mostafa Abdul Jalil, the former chairman of the National Transitional Council of Libya, couldn’t testify in court but we’ve submitted an affidavit from him stating that my clients are innocent of any wrongdoing,” Dr Al Sabhan said.

“If the Libyan government says that my clients are not criminals, who are we to lay those charges against them.

“My clients were investigated for terrorism and not the new charges at hand. This renders the whole process invalid, ” the lawyer said.

Lawyer Ali Al Mannaei, representing Mr Alaradi and the Eldarats, refuted claims that his clients supplied groups in a foreign country and raised money for foreign groups without the UAE’s approval.

“Everything my clients did was legal ... there are transparent business records that were submitted to the authorities. Dubai Customs had no issues with the process. They wouldn’t have allowed the process if there were any suspicion of any terrorist support or illegal funding,” he said.

Jasim Al Naqbi, the lawyer for Mr Al Manna, said that the defendants were heroes, doing their part to rebuild their country after the war that toppled Muammar Qaddafi.

Mr Al Naqbi repeated a witness statement to the court that Mr Al Manna was a respected philanthropist.

“He donated Dh4 million to help with the construction of a mosque after lack of funds threatened to halt construction,” Mr Al Naqbi said.

A verdict was scheduled for May 30.