[JURIST] On Sunday the Oman Court of First Instance sentenced the former executive of Galfar Engineering and Contracting, Muhammad Ali, to 15 years in prison and a fine of 1.7 million Omani rials for conviction in five cases of graft. A similar sentence along with a smaller fine was given [Gulf News report] to Ali’s deputy for being found guilty of being a direct accomplice. Ali was formerly sentenced [Reuters report] to three years in jail in January for bribes paid to Petroleum Development Oman, allegedly to encourage contracts to be awarded to his company. These trials are part of an ongoing effort by Omani officials to eliminate corruption and graft in the nation’s industries. Other former high officials have been convicted as well, including the CEO of the state-owned Oman Oil Company, sentenced to 23 years in prison for accepting bribes, laundering funds and abusing his office. Ali was not present in court when his sentence was handed down and has reportedly vowed to appeal the sentence and conviction.
The Omani government has been cracking down on pro-reform and human rights activists as well as political opponents, in addition to suspected of graft. Amnesty International (AI) praised [JURIST report] Oman’s Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al-Said’s decision to pardon all activists and writers convicted last year for insulting the ruler, information technology crimes and taking part in unauthorized protests. In September an Omani blogger was sentenced [JURIST report] to one year of imprisonment by a Muscat court and must pay a fine of 1,000 Omani Rials (USD $2,600). In July an Omani court sentenced [JURIST report] six human rights activists to between 12 and 18 months in prison for social media posts that were deemed to be slander against the country’s ruler, a defense lawyer said on Tuesday.