Bahrain to Retrial Doctors, Protests Continue
A Bahraini prosecutor has ordered retrials in civilian courts for 20 medics sentenced under martial law for crimes they were falsely accused of committing while treating victims from anti-government protests earlier this year.
The special military court had sentenced doctors and nurses among the defendants to terms as long as 15 years because they had treated demonstrators who were wounded by security forces.
The decision appeared to be at least a tactical retreat by Bahrain's al-Khalifa monarchy in the face of strong international protests over the punishments, including criticism from the secretary general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon.
Bahrain's attorney general, Ali Alboainain, said in a statement carried by the official Bahrain News Agency that he had studied the judgment that the security court rendered Thursday and had "determined that the cases should be retried before the ordinary courts."
Physicians for Human Rights, an advocacy group that has criticized the Bahraini government's behavior in the protests, reacted cautiously to the attorney general's announcement. "We are glad for any kind of review of the grossly unjust convictions," said Hans Hogrefe, the group's Washington director. The proof will be in the pudding."
Meanwhile, a military court on Wednesday sentenced 19 people, including a 16-year-old Iraqi football player, to up to five years in prison for their part in the protests. The sentences bring the estimated number of people jailed this week to 81.
He and others also noted that the announcement came as Congress began to evaluate the planned American sale of $53 million worth of weapons to Bahrain, including bunker-busting missiles, night-vision technology and dozens of Humvees. Human rights groups have written to Congress urging that the deal be blocked because of rights abuses in Bahrain.
In response to harsh sentences, anti-government protesters once again have poured onto streets across Bahrain in defiance of a heavy-handed Saudi-backed regime crackdown.
The protest rallies took place in several villages, including Sitra, Hamala and Barbar.
The demonstrators denounced the Bahrain military court for handing down harsh sentences to anti-regime protesters, demanding the release of political prisoners.
Source: News agencies, Edited by moqawama.org