Two terrorism trials hit by more delays

Trial of Emiratis and Afghan accused of promoting jihad and of Chinese accused of Dragon Mart plot are again postponed.

DUBAI - JANUARY 10,2010 - Dragon Mart at Hatta- Oman road in Dubai. ( Paulo Vecina/The National ) *** Local Caption ***  PV Dragon Mart 2.JPGBZ14JA P03 ANALYSIS 03.jpg
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ABU DHABI // Two terrorism trials at the Federal Supreme Court were again postponed yesterday, the latest in a string of delays for each case. The first trial involves seven Emiratis and an Afghan who face charges ranging from promoting jihad to financing the Taliban in Afghanistan. Their case was adjourned until next month.

The men, along with 21 others, were arrested at separate addresses in Khor Fakkan on October 30, 2008. Police carried out the raids after learning that the men were part of an underground movement "trying to promote their own strict views of Islam," according to court documents. Charges against 13 were dropped a few months later. Prosecutors say the eight remaining men all worshipped at the same mosque, led by the Afghan. One of the defendants is accused of downloading "jihad" military training videos and distributing them to the group. Another defendant is accused of funnelling money to an Afghan imam, who handed it over to the Taliban.

All of the men pleaded not guilty, and said they were coerced into signing confessions. The second case involves two Chinese men, who according to prosecutors, entered the country last July to make explosives for an attack on Dragon Mart, a centre of Chinese commerce in Dubai. A verdict, awaited for three months, had been scheduled for yesterday, but after a closed hearing, the judge adjourned the trial for at least three weeks.

Prosecutors say the men belong to the Uighur Muslim minority, who are centred in northwestern Xinjiang province. They are also accused of belonging to a terrorist organisation known as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, which calls for separation from China. It has been locked in a struggle with the Chinese government, and prosecutors say the two men planned the attack in retaliation for their government's treatment towards them.

The men pleaded not guilty and asked for a court-appointed lawyer. Their lawyer was not present yesterday and has attended only one trial to submit his written defence. Officials from the Chinese Embassy have attended every hearing.