The prime suspect among the 16 defendants facing trial in a special court in Jeddah for supporting terror activities said Wednesday charges made against him were false.
On the second day of the trial, the judge read out the incriminating portions of a confession by a defendant identified only as No. 12 who accused the primary defendant of hosting in 2002 Iraqi extremist and opposition members of unnamed Arab countries in a type of informal gentleman's meeting called a diwaniah. No. 12 identified the Iraqis were affiliated with Al-Jaish Al-Islami and that during the meeting pamphlets extolling the terrorist group were distributed.
Replying to the charge, the defendant, identified as No. 1, told the judge that people from different walks of life and countries used to meet at his house and discuss diverse topics. The topics were sometimes political, just as newspapers discuss different issues. He added that the participants were mainly his friends and their visits were legal and not secretive. No. 1 also denied that anyone attending these meetings were militants and that no incendiary pamphlets were distributed at these meetings.
No. 12 accused No. 1 of accepting cash donations to fund terrorism activities, specifically accepting cash from a woman working as a doctor at an unnamed university hospital and another doctor working in Jeddah's Al-Nahda district. No. 1 also appeared on local television as an expert on relief activities as part of his ruse to take charitable contributions and use them for terrorism activities, according to No. 12's confession.
No. 1 denied taking money from any woman doctor, but said that he used to send No. 12 to collect donations for approved relief operations in Iraq. No. 1 also claimed he received letters of thanks from former high-ranking government officials for his work on raising charity for relief campaigns.
No. 12 also reportedly claimed in the confession that he accompanied No. 1 to a shop on Jeddah's Tahliah St. while No. 1 wore a mask. According to the confession, No. 1 told No.12 that he was wearing a mask because he wanted to collect a donation at a shopping center but he didn't want the donor to recognize him. No. 12 then said, according to the confession, that he noticed No. 1's wife at the shopping center.
No. 1 responded to this allegation by saying that indeed he went to the shopping center wearing a mask, but that it was a joke and that his wife was indeed present in a shop but she didn't have the money to pay for a transaction.
No. 1 also denied another allegation in No. 12's confession that he gave cash to Rafi Al-Isawi, a manager of a hospital in Falujah, Iraq, and that he told the manager to spend the money any way he deemed fit. He also claimed that all of his charity activities were reported to the Interior Ministry.
Also on Wednesday, the presiding judge in the hearing expelled two reporters, one of them a television reporter, from the court at the request of No. 1, who said the two reporters concocted false claims against him. Rights group urges Bahrain to end harassment of scribes