Bahrain: Lottery of political verdicts for over 42 political detainees
Courts continue to pass sentences in absence of solid evidences and based on coerced confessions taken under torture
The guards restricting access to the court this morning
14 August 2012
Today, 14 August 2012, which is the Bahrain’s Independence Day, the courts issued its verdicts on several cases against over 56 person where at least 42 of them are detained. The sum of all sentences issued by the military courts in the past year against the 42 political detainees accused in main 6 cases is 845 years.
While many of these cases have been linked to criminal acts, it’s believed by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights that the defendants didn’t get the right to a fair trial, and the sentences against them were based solely on the confessions taken under torture where the prosecution failed to submit solid evidence to support convictions. Despite all information published on torture, including the confirmation made by the report of the independent commission of inquiry appointed by the king (BICI), and the official complaints made by the defendants to the court, the court has proceeded to issue its verdicts without investigating the allegation of torture.
The following are the main cases which the court has issued verdicts on today:
1- Kidnapping a policeman (RasRumman case): Three defendants were originally sentenced by the military court to 10 years each. The court of appeal reduced the sentence of Aamer Saleh to three years and acquitted the other two.
2- Kidnapping a policeman (AlSehla case): Nine defendants were originally sentenced by the military court to 15 years each. The court of appeal acquitted all of them except Mohamed Mirza who received a reduced sentence to ten years. Mohamed Mirza (37 years old) is an award-winning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) trainer. He was arrested on 16 March 2011 from a checkpoint and he is one of several athletes still in jail since the last year crackdown . BCHR has documented the case of Khalil AlMadhoon and his brother Hamed who were subject to torture and prosecution in this case as a revenge from their father (an opposition member active from abroad) .
3- Kidnapping a policeman (“Hoseman” case): six defendants were originally sentenced by the military court to 15 years each and a seventh defendant was sentenced to 3 years. The court of appeal acquitted three of them today and reduced the sentences of the others. Jassim AlHaiki sentence was reduced from 15 years to two years imprisonment. Yousif Radhi (sentenced 15 years) and Mustafa Abduljalil (sentenced 3 years) sentences were upheld. BCHR believes that Yousif Radhi and Mustafa Abduljalil (17 years old) were targeted due to their relation to the opposition figure Shaikh Abduljalil AlMoqdad. BCHR has documented the details of torture which Mostafa was subjected to, only because of his relationship to the AlMoqdad.
4- Kidnapping a policeman (AlQala’a case): Three defendants were originally sentenced by the military court to 10 years each. The court of appeal upheld the sentence against Ali Muqahwi and Fathi Mansoor Omran.
The third defendant is the opposition figure Mohamed Habib AlMoqdad who is the common defendant between all the previous four cases of kidnapping. He was originally given a sum of 60 years sentences in the four cases. The court decided to join the cases for him upon request from the lawyers and after the appeal the sentences were reduced to 15 years. BCHR has documented the targeting of AlMoqdad with up to 17 cases at the military court, and he is a victim of torture on the hands of the son of the king, Nasser bin Hamad AlKhalifa. He has detailed the torture to the court, however, no investigation started before passing the verdicts.
5- Cutting the tongue of a “Muezzin”:Seven defendants were originally sentenced by the military court to 15 years each, Mohamed Habib AlMoqdad was sentenced to 10 years and Mohamed Ali Marhoon was sentenced to 4 years. The court of appeal upheld the 15 years sentences against all the seven defendants, acquitted AlMoqdad and reduced the sentence of Marhoon to 1 year with suspension of execution. BCHR believes that this case is one of the most baseless cases where the verdicts were passed without having the prosecution presents any solid evidence to convict the defendants. As a matter of fact, there is a dispute on the identity of the alleged victim and the cause of his injury. While the prosecution alleges the tongue of the victim was cut with a sharp tool, it failed to provide any medical report to support this. The right of defendants in fair trial was dismissed as some of the witnesses statements have been omitted and others were created without its owner consent which was proved at court when witnesses contradicted their written statements. Medical reports were provided to the court to prove the occurrence of torture, however no investigation was initiated. BICI report has also confirmed that defendants were tortured to force confessions in this case (Annex B - case no.20 and case no.56) This case has been used in the local media to fuel the public opinion against the protesters and to slander the popular protests in a sectarian way.
(BICI – Annex B – case no.56 ) “.. The following day, he was further interrogated and accused of cutting off the tongue of an Asian worker. He responded that he did not understand what he was being told. The interrogators informed him that he may not understand now, but he would soon. They continued to beat him viciously and electrocuted him until he admitted to the crime. They asked him who had cooperated with him and he replied that he did not know. They beat him and dislocated his shoulder. He began to cry because of the pain and then he agreed to confess to the accusations made against him. The detainee did not know the other persons implicated by his interrogators.”
6- The case of the 13 political and human rights leaders: The verdict reading in case of the thirteen political and human rights leaders, who were all boycotting the verdict reading today, was delayed until 4th of September. Please see more details here: bahrainrights.org/en/node/5384
The court also held hearings in several other cases linked to the ongoing protests, including:
1- The Nuwaidrat case: 15 detainees from Nuwaidrat who were arrested March 2012 were sentenced today to one year of prison. Here are the names and pictures of the convicted:
2- The Bani Jamra case: 18 detainees who were arrested in Bani Jamra since April 2012 was adjourned until 26 August with continued detention. The judge initially ordered release of nine of them but then withdrew his decision and said it was by mistake. Among the group of detainees is Mansoor Al Jamri, a 16 year old, who has supported and assisted BCHR in the documentation of human rights abuses against peaceful protestors in villages around Bahrain, has been reportedly subjected to torture and beatings in detention.
3- The Karzakkan case: 8 detainees, who were arrested for peaceful protesting on 13 July 2012 and detained for thirty days, were released while trial continues.
5 - Zainab Alkhawaja case: where Zainab is accused with tearing the photo of the Bahrain’s king at the police station. The hearing was adjourned until 28 August, request to release her was rejected. More details about her case here: bahrainrights.org/en/node/5366
1 – Three children are accused in one case with blocking the roads: Mirza AbdulShaheed (12-year old), Mohsen Mohamed (13-year old) and Mohammed AlMawlani (15-year old). The court judge ruled to extend detention for seven more days. They have already been detained for a week now. In the court Mirza was crying "I don't want to go to prison I can't sleep there".
2- Ahmed Auon (17 years old) who was shot in the eye and is detained since 13 May 2012 has been released today. BCHR has documented his case on this report: bahrainrights.org/en/node/5279
There are several other cases which were at the court today but BCHR didn’t had enough information to include them in this report.
Despite the positive news of several innocent pro-democracy protestors being released today, the Bahrain center for human rights strongly condemns the fact that many of the detained has been kept in prison for a several months, in conditions of torture and with no repercussions for the responsible individuals and institutions. These court decisions are mainly political decisions and the issue of any type of compensation for physical and psychological torture, loss of income etc. is non-existing. Remembering the words of Abdulhadi Alkhawaja: “Those responsible for violation of my rights are the ones who should be brought to justice and punished.” In addition, BCHR calls to put an end to the exploitation of the judicial system to target pro-democracy protesters.