Middle Eastern legal insanity knows no bounds, with mass public executions, chopping of limbs and lengthy jail terms for minor offenses the norm. The area proved just how insane it is, after four men were sentenced to life in prison for disseminating information, rumours and pictures on Twitter that were said to harm the reputation of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Another man was given 10 years in prison for the same offense.
State news agency WAM reported that the sentences were handed out by the State Security Circuit at the Federal Supreme Court on Monday,
The court found the men acted with “intent to ridicule and damage the reputation and prestige of the state symbols”, WAM said.
The first defendant, identified as H.A.M.A, was present for the verdict, while the other four, identified as J.H.A, H.K.A., R.A.A. and A.M.A., were sentenced in absentia.
Each of the defendants was also fined Dhs1 million or $270,000.
The court did not identify what nationality the men were nor if it is known where the four at-large individuals are.
H.A.M.A appeared with relatives, the media and members of civil society organisations, who roundly condemned the sentence as draconian and inhumane.
The court also handed down a three-year sentence to an Emirati, identified as A.S.A., on the charge of abusing state symbols at his workplace.