(AFP) – Dozens of UAE Islamists accused of plotting to seize power had formed a “state within the state” organisation linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, a witness told court, according to press reports on Tuesday.
The witness, a security officer, told UAE’s security court on Monday that a “probe has discovered a secret organisation linked to the international network of the Muslim Brotherhood” of Egypt, the Emaratalyoum daily quoted him as saying.
“On the surface, the organisation worked to reform the society, but in secret, it was plotting to seize power.”
He said the organisation began operations in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings which hit several Arab nations, adding that a “structure resembling a state within the state” was formed by the accused.
The organisation featured a consultative council of 30 members, in addition to an administration council and a six-member women council, the witness said.
The top security court reconvened on Tuesday and heard more testimonies in the case of 94 defendants, including 13 women, accused of plotting against the state in the largest trial in the history of the United Arab Emirates but which is not open for foreign media.
The court adjourned the hearing to next Tuesday, WAM state news agency said in a brief report on the trial, saying 73 male defendants and 12 women appeared in court.
Ten defendants are being tried in absentia, while women have been out on bail since the trial began on March 4.
The prosecutors say that the accused are linked to Al-Islah group, which has ties with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
UAE attorney general Salem Kobaish last month said the defendants would be tried for “having created and led a movement aimed at opposing the basic foundations on which the state’s political system is built and at seizing power”.
The group had formed a “secret organisation” which was in contact with individuals and organisations “abroad”, including the Brotherhood, and had also created or invested in real estate firms to finance their organisation, he said.
The UAE has not seen any of the widespread pro-reform protests which have swept other Arab countries, including fellow Gulf states Bahrain and Oman, but authorities have stepped up a crackdown on dissent and calls for democratic reform.