Qatari poet's sentence reduced to 15 years

Ajami's life sentence for encouraging overthrow of Gulf state's government reduced by appeals court.

Qatari poet's sentence reduced to 15 years

World Bulletin/News Desk

A Qatari poet jailed for life for criticising the emir and attempting to incite revolt had his sentence cut to 15 years on Monday, in a case human rights groups said showed hypocrisy by the Gulf state, which has supported Arab uprisings abroad.

In his verses, Muhammad Ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami praised the Arab Spring revolts that toppled four dictators, often with the help of money and other support from Qatar.

But the poet also criticised Qatar's absolute monarch and spoke, for example, of "sheikhs playing on their PlayStations".

He was sentenced to life in prison three months ago, but he appealed against the conviction and sentence, arguing he should be freed as there was no evidence that he had recited the offending verses in public and so no basis for charging him with incitement.

His term was reduced on Monday to 15 years. Al-Ajami shouted "There is no law for this" as he was led away by guards from Qatar's court of appeal.

Defence lawyer Najib al-Naimi said the poet would now appeal to the supreme court, describing the unanimous decision by the three-judge appeal court as a miscarriage of justice.

"There is politics behind this. They are trying to demonstrate to the Qatari citizens that if anyone opens his mouth, they will have the same treatment ... to set an example."

Among offending passages from one of al-Ajami's poems, translated from Arabic, was the line: "If the sheikhs cannot carry out justice, we should change the power and give it to the beautiful woman."

Last Mod: 25 Şubat 2013, 11:37
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