14 August 2012

The higher court of appeal held a session today to issue its verdict in the appeal trial of the 13 political and Human Rights activists, however the verdict has been delayed until the 4 September 2012 for no reason. The activists were originally sentenced in a military court to between five years and life imprisonment and the court of cassation has voided the verdicts on 30 April 2012, however the activists were not released.

Bahrain center for Human Rights believes this appeal trial is not more than a show and a delay of justice that adds up to the violations to the rights of the detained activists as it’s based on the invalid verdicts of the military court at time those verdicts should be called void for the unconstitutionality of the military courts and for being proved to be solely based on coerced confessions taken under severe torture as openly described in the report by the independent commission of inquiry (BICI) appointed by the king.

The activists had submitted their appeals since Oct 2011, however the court of cassation didn’t hold any hearing session until April 2012 when it ruled on 30 April 2012 that the National Safety Court (military court) verdict does not outline the crime elements, neither in its Mens rea nor its Actus reus, and is therefore “a void verdict that should be reversed”. As such, the activists should have been released immediately, however they were dragged into another show of trials at the higher court of appeal were a fast trial was held between 8 May 2012 until 27 July 2012 through 16 hearing sessions.

The activists have detailed to the court the torture they were subjected to throughout their detention and even though their torturers have been named. There has not been any investigation into these allegations.

Instead of prosecuting the officers involved in torture, the coerced confessions taken under torture and the interrogation records prepared by the military prosecution were used against the activists at the higher court of appeal as sole evidence. The file in the court’s possession lacks any decisive evidence that links activists to the charges in question.

The defendants have also been deprived from hearing the court sessions by being placed behind a glass wall. Independent international observers from human rights organizations have not been allowed to attend the trial’s sessions, while many have been denied entry into the country. Human rights defendants in Bahrain have also been denied access to the hearings, including the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights Said Yousif AlMuhafdha.

The court made a baseless decision on 4 July 2012 to hear the defense witnesses only inside the Judge room though the trial is officially public. When the lawyers threatened to withdraw from the case, the judges decided to hold the hearing in the court, but in private. The judge then also issued a gag order on 14 July 2012 preventing all media from reporting on this case. As a result, the 13 political prisoners asked their lawyers to withdraw from the case. The court tried to force new lawyers on the activists, but eventually decided to issue verdicts without hearing the defense witnesses, which was supposed to happen at today’s session, but the court postpone the verdict until 4 Sep 2012.

Today, family members were not allowed into the courtroom, and were then cleared out by order of the judge when some started chanting.

Bahrain center for Human Rights believes that there are no legal grounds for the continued imprisonment of these activists, especially after the confirmation of arbitrary arrest, torture and unfair trials in the Bahrain Independent Commission of Enquiry (BIC) report, reports of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and international human rights organizations which affirmed that these activists are prisoners of conscience, and that they should be immediately released.

The Bahrain Centre for human rights urges for the release and full exoneration of the prisoners as well as an investigation of the allegations of torture and that the people responsible to be held accountable. We also urge that the Royal “Bahrain Independent Commission of Enquiry’s” report to be used as a proof to these allegations.

The 13 opposition activists are as follows:

1-Abdulwahab Hussain ( life sentence imprisonment) 2-Ebrahim Sharif ( 5 Years imprisonment) 3-Hassan Mushaima( life sentence imprisonment) 4-Abdulhadi Al Khawaja ( life sentence imprisonment) 5-Abduljalil Al Singace.( life sentence imprisonment) 6-Mohammed Habib Al Miqdad ( life sentence imprisonment) 7-Saeed Mirza AlNouri ( life sentence imprisonment) 8- Abduljalil Al Miqdad ( life sentence imprisonment) 09-Abdullah Isa Al Mahroos.( 5 years imprisonment) 10-Salah Hubail Al Khawaj.( 5 years imprisonment) 11-Mohammed Hassan Jawad.( 15 years imprisonment) 12-Mohammed Ali Ismael. ( 15 years imprisonment)) 13-Abdul Hadi AlMukhodher ( 15 years imprisonment)

For background read: bahrainrights.hopto.org/en/node/5272

Also read:

Bahrain: The court must investigate all allegations of torture, including those made against Son of the King, Nasser Bin Hamad

A special report on the torture and human rights violations against the detainees in the case of "Alliance for the Republic"