Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Poet who 'insulted' emir of Qatar sees life sentence reduced

The Qatari poet Muhammad Ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami,jailed for life for criticising the emir and attempting to incite revolt, had his sentence cut to 15 years on Monday.In his verses Ajami praised the Arab Spring revolts that toppled four dictators, often with the help of money and other support from Qatar, a close U.S. ally which also backs rebels in Syria. But Ajami 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. In the appeal he argued 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.

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