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Bahrain protester sentenced to death, medics jailed
A special court in Bahrain has sentenced a protester to death, another to life in jail and 20 medical staff to between five and 15 years in prison. Shia-Muslim opposition members claim that the accused were tortured while awaiting trial.
The sentences were handed down by the national safety court, with both military and civilian members, set up by Sunni King Hahmad al-Khalifa under a three-month law aimed at cracking down on anti-government protests.
Ali Yusof al-Taweel was sentenced to death and Ali Mahdi to life in prison for running over police officer Ahmed al-Mreyssi in the Shia of Sitra, south of Manama, during unrest that followed the crackdown, military general prosecutor Yusof Flaifel told the BNA state news agency.
The healthworkers – 13 doctors, a dentist, nurses and paramedics – faced an array of charges arising from the storming of the Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC) in Manama after they drove protesters out of nearby Pearl Square.
The authorities claimed the medical staff had “a terrorist aim”.
According to the official BNA news agency, they were tried for:
- forcefully occupying SMC;
- possessing unlicensed arms (one AK-47) and knives;
- incitement to overthrow the regime;
- seizing medical equipment;
- detaining policemen;
- spreading false news;
- inciting hatred to the regime and insulting it;
- instigating hatred against another sect ;
- obstructing the implementation of law;
- destroying public property;
- taking part in gatherings aimed at jeopardising the general security and committing crimes.
None of the accused healthworkers, who were released on bail on 8 September, attended the hearing, according to relatives, although lawyers and some family members did.
They were among 47 medical workers detained after the crackdown. Many went on hunger strike in protest at their arrest.
Shia politician Matar Matar, who was himself detained for around three months, said Taweel and Mahdi confessed to running over the police officer under torture, saying that he shared a cell with them.
"They told me that they were forced to confess, reconstruct the crime scene of the running over, and to sign pre-written statements," he told the AFP news agency. "All these confessions were made under torture."