Syrian Opposition Slams Accusations against Dissident MPs
The charges levelled by the government at two Syrian opposition MPs arrested more than a month ago are "completely unjustified," opposition National Democratic Rally spokesman Hassan Abdel Azim said on Tuesday.
The two detained men did not "act with the aim of altering the Constitution illegally, they did not incite to violence, they peacefully expressed their desire for change, reform, freedom and democracy and called for the abolition of the emergency law" in effect since the ruling Baath Party came to power in 1963, he added.
On Monday, lawyers for Riyad Seif and Maamun Homsi said that the two opposition MPs had been charged with seeking to "change the Constitution through illegal means," an offense punishable by between five years and life in jail.
Seif, 54, and Homsi, 45, will be tried by the Damascus criminal court, according to their lawyers, who said no date had yet been set for the start of their trial.
The two deputies belong to a group of 10 opposition members arrested between mid-August and mid-September. The eight others will be tried by a special court - the state security high court - whose judgements can not be appealed.
Among the group are opposition communist leader Riyad Turk and prominent economist Aref Dalila.
Seif, who organised political debates at his home, was summonsed on September 6 and also accused of "inciting inter-religious division", "forming a secret society," "organising subversive meetings" and "gatherings aimed at causing disorder," his lawyer said.
Homsi, who had started a hunger strike to push for political reforms, was detained on August 9 and accused of "aggression aimed at impeding the authorities from carrying out their duties," "inciting inter-religious dissent," defamation" toward state institutions and "resistance" toward the authorities, his lawyer said.
Turk, who has already served 17 years in prison under Hafez al-Assad, current Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's father and predecessor, was released on September 1, a few days after a televised interview with the sattelite Al-Jazeera network in which he described the former president as a "dictator".
"The National Democratic Rally will continue to claim the liberation of its detained members, so that their cause is not forgotten in the aftermath of the current events," Abdel Azim added, in reference to the world crisis sparked by the September 11 terror attacks against the United States and the ensuing military retaliation against Afghanistan -- DAMASCUS, (AFP)
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