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Charges spelt out against detained Shura member.

Muscat: Detained Shura member from Liwa, Dr Talib Al M'mari, is facing two charges of wrongful assembly at a public place and inciting the crowd, his brother Captain Murad Al M'mari informed Gulf News on Monday.

"Last Friday, my brother had access to his lawyer for the first time since his detention 14 days ago," he said, adding that during interrogation Dr Al M'mari had denied the charges of inciting the crowd.

He did agree that he had gone to the protest site like any other affected Liwa resident but had neither invited people nor incited the crowd to gather for demonstrations. "He also told authorities that being an elected member of the area he had gone more as a mediator."

"We [the family] went to the Public Prosecution but we had to wait outside, only his lawyer [Salah Al Beloushi] could see him," he revealed.

Captain Murad added that his brother was suffering from kidney stones and the pain had become so unbearable during his detention that he had to be hospitalised for five days at the Royal Oman Police Hospital.

"He has had this problem for some time now and two months back he had to be hospitalised. It aeems now the stone has grown bigger to 6mm in size and needs to be removed," he said, adding that the family has requested the authorities to release him for treatment. "We are positive about his release soon."

The lawyer told Gulf News that it was too early to speak on the case as he had only had one meeting with his client, who was detained in the early hours of August 24 from his brother's house.

Two municipal council members from Liwa, Saqr Al Beloushi and Yaqoub Al M'mari, were also detained with Dr Al M'mari. While Yaqoub Al M'mari was released after four days, Al Beloushi is still under detention.

"My brother is facing charges of wrongful assembly at a public place and blocking traffic," Al Beloushi's brother Hassan told Gulf News.

He added that they had also requested authorities for a visit with his brother and were hopeful of a positive response.

The Shura member and the municipal council members were arrested for their presence during the August 22 demonstrations outside the gate of Sohar Industrial Port.

The local residents, including a large number of women, had gathered to protest against pollution caused by the petrochemical industries near Liwa, about 270km north of Muscat.

Being an elected member of Oman's advisory council, Dr Al M'mari enjoys immunity. He can only be arrested after approval by a two-thirds majority vote in the 84-member house. In case the house is not in session, the Council Chairman has the authority to lift the immunity.

The chairman, Shaikh Khalid Bin Hilal Bin Naseer Al M'wali, had denied lifting immunity on microblogging website Twitter. However, an elected member can be arrested for his/her presence "at the scene of crime", a clause presumably used by the authorities.

The Shura Chairman has also tweeted that the Council was making every effort for an amicable solution and early release of its member.

Last year, the Public Prosecution wanted to try Dr Al M'mari for a post on his Facebook account against a Housing Ministry employee. The elected council had rejected the request. He was also detained during 2011 protests in Sohar but was released without any conviction. He then successfully ran for Shura Council elections from Liwa.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7OMAN
Date:Sep 10, 2013
Words:590
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