False confessions were likely forced by torture
Bahrain’s decision to allow the verdicts of seven protesters by a military court over the alleged killing of two police officers in anti-government demonstrations last month was condemned and rebuffed as oppressive.
The court sentenced Ali Abdullah Hasan, Qasim Hassan Mattar, Saeed Abdul Jalil Saeed, Abdul Aziz Abdullah Ibrahim to death.
All seven accused are reported to have denied the charges.
Human rights activists say the two-week trial, held behind closed doors with lawyers and the press forbidden to speak or write about it, ignored international rights standards and that false confessions were likely forced by torture. Three other demonstrators, Issa Abdullah Kazem, Sadiq Ali Mahdi, and Hussein Jaafar Abdul Karim, were sentenced to life in prison, after the government said they confessed to using vehicles to run over the policemen.
|Abdul Aziz Abdullah Ibrahim||Ali Abdullah Hasan||Qasim Hassan Mattar||Saeed Abdul Jalil Saeed|
Mohammed Al Maskati, head of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, says the government’s interrogations and investigations of the defendants took place without their lawyers present, and that they did not have access to their lawyers until the two-week trial began.
Bahraini authorities said the defendants had the right to appeal, though Amnesty International and local human rights groups said the appeal would be insignificant at this point.
The suspects were also barred from meeting with their families, and the news media were not allowed to cover the trial.
Amnesty International’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa Malcolm Smart said:
“Bahrain is in the grip of a deepening human rights crisis and the severity of the sentences imposed today, following a military trial behind closed doors, will do nothing to reverse that.“King Hamad bin Issa Al Khalifa must urgently make it clear that he will not allow these death sentences to be carried out. “The Bahraini authorities have a responsibility to bring to justice those who commit violent crimes. But when doing so, they must uphold the right to fair trial and they must not use the death penalty under any circumstances.”
“In this case, the accused were tried before a special military court, although they are civilians. It also appears that the trial was conducted behind closed doors. As well, those sentenced have no right of appeal except to another special military court, raising great fears about the fairness of the entire process.”
Human rights activists in Bahrain voiced fears that the verdicts could generate a new wave of protests in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom. They also argued that the trial was rendered unfair by a series of legal abuses, including the arrest of one of the defendants' lawyers, Mohammed al-Tajer, one of Bahrain's most prominent attorneys.
Bahrainis were enraged by the issuance of the death sentences and clashes have erupted between anti-riot police and anti-regime protesters in the eastern city of Sitra.
|Issa Abdullah Kazem||Sadiq Ali Mahdi||Hussein Jaafar Abdul Karim|