Syrian court jails four communists: rights groups



DAMASCUS- A Syrian security court on Sunday sentenced four communist dissidents, arrested in May 2009, to jail terms of four to over seven years on charges of belonging to a secret organisation, human rights groups said.
"The High Court of State Security, a special court, condemned the four militants, members of the (banned) Communist Labour Party, to severe prison sentences," four rights groups said in a joint statement.



Syrian court jails four communists: rights groups
Abbas Abbas was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison, while Ahmad al-Nihawi, Ghassan Hassan and Tufiq Omran received four-year terms.
The militants, arrested during a house raid in central Syria, were accused of "membership in a secret organisation whose aim is to change the state's political and social status," according to the release.
The rights organisations expressed their "deep concern on the subject of special courts in Syria... which are a violation of basic liberties guaranteed by the Syrian constitution and international agreements."
The four men, all former political prisoners, had pleaded not guilty at a hearing last September, telling the court that they had ceased their political activities.
"The stiff sentences that struck these militants reflect the Syrian authorities' harsh policy against political opponents," said the rights groups.
They called on the authorities to "respect their international commitments linked to the defence of human rights" and to immediately release "political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Syria."
The statement was signed by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the Syrian League for the Defence of Human Rights, the National Organisation for Human Rights in Syria and the Arab Organisation for Human Rights in Syria.
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Monday, January 24th 2011
AFP
           


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