DUBAI (Reuters) - A United Arab Emirates (UAE) court convicted 11 men including UAE, Syrian and Comoros nationals of helping to form an al Qaeda affiliate and sending fighters to join Syrian rebel groups, newspapers reported on Wednesday.
Four Emiratis among the 11 were sentenced to life imprisonment in absentia by the state security division of the Federal Supreme Court on Tuesday, the National newspaper reported.
The other seven, including Syrian and Comoros nationals, were handed sentences of between one and 15 years.
The 11 were accused of membership of al Qaeda’s Nusrah Front Syrian wing and another militant Syrian opposition group, Ahrar al-Sham, and of collecting funds for these groups, the newspapers reported. A further four accused were acquitted on some counts, the newspapers said, without elaborating.
The newspapers reported prosecutors as saying the accused had traveled to Syria to make contact with armed groups, and had collected money, devices and equipment for use in attacks on civilians in Syria.
All 11 who appeared in court had denied the charges, newspapers have said.
One Comoran and the four Emiratis tried in absentia were also charged with trying to build a bomb and polluting the environment through detonating dangerous and banned materials.
UAE newspapers have reported without elaborating that the explosive device allegedly assembled by the five accused had leaked toxic chemical fumes that affected nearby residents.
Reporting by William Maclean; Editing by Robert Birsel