DUBAI, June 26 An Omani court has begun hearing
the cases of activists accused of defamation and illegal
assembly during protests demanding political reforms, and of
criticising the conduct of security agencies, a local newspaper
said on Tuesday.
Oman, an ally of the United States and Britain located on a
major oil shipping route, has detained more than 30 people in
the last three weeks over protests that erupted following
strikes at oil facilities.
Most state revenue comes from oil. The strikes were the
biggest Oman has seen since protests last year against
corruption and unemployment, triggered by "Arab Spring"
uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.
Several opposition activists were arrested when they visited
an oil facility where workers went on strike in late May,
triggering protests which have themselves ended with more
The Oman newspaper said court proceedings started on Monday
against 15 people, four of whom were accused of defamation and
incitement to further protests and strikes.
Eleven others were charged with illegal assembly, it said.
Azzaman, another Omani newspaper, said the accused had
spoken of "violations" in the manner they were dealt with while
in detention, but did not elaborate. Neither the court nor the
Justice Ministry could be reached for comment on the case.
The hearing was scheduled to resume on Tuesday.
Oman's public prosecutor warned this month that he would
take action against anyone making defamatory statements on
social media, after protests where some activists used slogans
that derided the ruler, Sultan Qaboos. He also declined to
discuss the court case when asked by Reuters.
The sultan - the longest-standing Arab head of state after
the fall of Libya's Muammar Gaddafi - promised thousands of jobs
and unemployment benefits in response to last year's unrest.
Protesters say those measures are not being implemented and have
periodically taken to the streets.
(Writing by Joseph Logan; Editing by Kevin Liffey)