Four people were sentenced to life imprisonment while one person was sentenced to ten years in jail by the State Security Circuit at the Federal Supreme Court in a case in which the five Gulf nationals were accused of disseminating information, data, rumours and pictures on the websites and social networking site Twitter, with an intent to ridicule and damage the reputation and prestige of the state symbols.
The verdicts were issued in the presence of the first defendant, identified as HAMA, while the other four, identified respectively as JHA, HKA, RAA and AMA, were sentenced in absentia.
The court heard the pleadings of the first accused and his defence lawyers.
Based on the witnesses' statements and expert reports, the court issued the verdicts. It also fined each of the defendants Dh1 million and confiscated the seized devices.
The court also ordered the deportation of the convicts once they have served the jail terms.
Earlier, the public prosecution screened a film about the crime and the confessions of the first defendant.
It noted that the defendants had committed serious crime as per articles 29 and 41 of the Federal Law of Decree No 5/2012, on combating information technology crimes, as also articles 102 and 103 of the Federal Penal Code and their amendments.
The first defendant appeared before the court in the presence of some of his relatives, representatives of the media and members of civil society organisations in the UAE.
Meanwhile, the court handed down a three-year imprisonment to an Emirati, identified as A.S.A., on the charge of abusing the state symbols at his workplace.