Jailed Syria activists lose early release petition: group

DAMASCUS - Twelve pro-democracy Syrian activists, jailed after calling for greater democracy, lost their petition for early release and will have to serve their full 30-month sentence, a human rights group said on Wednesday.
"The Court of Appeal rejected the petition presented by the lawyers of the opponents who had signed the 'Damascus Declaration,'" the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said.
It said the lawyers had filed for an early release "under the terms of a law making it possible for prisoners to be freed after serving three quarters of their jail sentence."

Syrian police stand guard outside the US embassy in Damascus (Louai Beshara/AFP)
Syrian police stand guard outside the US embassy in Damascus (Louai Beshara/AFP)
In October 2008, the 12 signatories of the Damascus Declaration, which calls for democratic change, were condemned in a court in the Syrian capital for "damaging the state."
Author Ali Abdullah, Dr Walid Bunni, writer Akram Bunni, and former MP Riad Seif were convicted, as were Fidaa Hurani, Ahmad Tomeh, Jabr al-Shufi, Yasser al-Iti, Mohammed Haji Darwish, Marwan al-Ish, Fayez Sara and Talal Abu-Dan.
Akram Bunni is a brother of human rights lawyer Anwar Bunni, who is serving a five-year jail term.
SOHR said it was "astonished" that a law allowing early release of prisoners did not extend the same right to political prisoners.

Thursday, March 11th 2010

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