Omani court upholds jail terms for bloggers: lawyer

AFP , Wednesday 16 Jan 2013

Omani court imprisons five defendants for one year each on grounds of defaming the country's ruling sultan

An Omani court of appeal on Wednesday upheld jail terms ranging between one year and 18 months against eight writers and bloggers convicted of defaming the sultan and cyber crimes, a lawyer said.

The court jailed five defendants for one year each, and sentenced the other three to 18 months, with each of the eight fined 1,000 rials ($2,600), the lawyer said.

The verdicts were announced by a court of first instance on December 9.

Several groups of activists are on trial on charges of defaming or using Internet social media networks to insult Sultan Qaboos, who has ruled the Gulf sleepy sultanate for 42 years.

Many others have been tried after taking part in protests that shook the usually calm Oman in 2011 demanding political reforms.

Last month, an appeals court upheld jail sentences ranging from six months to one year against 23 activists convicted of defaming the sultan and taking part in protests.

Riot police used force to disperse the demonstrations in 2011. However, Sultan Qaboos responded by reshuffling the cabinet and increasing the powers of the consultative assembly.

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