SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged a fair trial for 94 activists accused of plotting to overthrow the the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Salem Kobaish, the UAE attorney-general, said last month the defendants would go on trial 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".
Kobaish has accused the group of forming a "secret organisation" in contact with individuals and organisations abroad.
He said they had also created or invested in real estate companies to finance their organisation.
The emirate says all of the accused have connections to Al-Islah, which has links to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW's Middle East director, said she feared a "mockery of justice" as the accused men and women prepared to go on trial on Monday.
Whitson said the accused included human rights lawyers, judges, teachers, and student leaders.
"It appears that UAE authorities will drag scores of citizens through a shamelessly unfair judicial process that makes a mockery of justice," she said.
The New York-based watchdog believes the judicial process "raises serious fair trial concerns, including limited
access to lawyers and withholding of key documents concerning the charges and evidence against them".
The defendants are due to appear in the Federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi, which acts as state security court.
"The decision to prosecute the case before the Federal Supreme Court under state security procedures deprives those being tried of the right to appeal," Whitson said.
"Defence lawyers cannot possibly defend their clients adequately without seeing the documents setting out the evidence against them."
The suspects were arrested from March to December last year.
They include human rights lawyers Mohammed al-Roken and Mohammed al-Mansoori. At least 10 of the accused are women, according to the HRW.
Two relatives of each male defendant and one family member of each female defendant will be allowed to attend the hearing, HRW said.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Kuwait's Shia minority has won for the first time more than a third of the 50 parliamentary seats in polls boycotted by the opposition which declared the new assembly "illegitimate" due to poor voter turnout.
According to official results released on Sunday, the Shias - who form around 30 per cent of Kuwait's native population of 1.2 million - won 17 seats compared with seven they won in the scrapped 2012 parliament and nine in the 2009 house.
Three women were elected to the new parliament compared to four in 2009, according to figures released by the National Election Commission.
The new house includes as many as 30 new faces as leading members of the opposition stayed away from the polls.
Sunni Islamists were reduced to a small minority of four MPs compared with as many as 23 in the house elected in February.
The opposition said the boycott was very successful as a majority of voters stayed home, and described the election as "unconstitutional."
"Based on statistics compiled by the opposition, the voter turnout was 26.7 per cent," said former MP Khaled al-Sultan at the end of an emergency meeting by the opposition after the ballots closed.
The information ministry website, however, reported that turnover was 38.8 per cent and opposition youth groups reported lower percentages.
Veteran opposition leader Ahmad al-Saadoun said the "election is unconstitutional," while several other former MPs called on Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah to repeal the disputed amendment.
Voting passed off without any incident despite high political tension between the Islamist, nationalist and liberal opposition and the government led by the Al-Sabah ruling family.
The vote, the second in 10 months, came nearly two months after the emir dissolved a pro-government parliament following its reinstatement in June by a court ruling.
Calls for the boycott were instigated in protest to the government's unilateral amendment of the electoral law ahead of the polls.
The opposition claimed the action enabled the government to manipulate the outcome of polls.