Bahrain acquits police who tortured medics

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Bahraini women take part in an anti-government rally in solidarity with jailed political activists in the village of A'ali, south of Manama, on 27 June 2013. (Photo: AFP - Mohammed al-Shaikh)

Published Monday, July 1, 2013

A Bahraini court acquitted on Monday two police officers on trial for torturing six doctors during the 2011 uprising against the monarchy, a judicial source said.

The two officers had been accused in March 2011 of having "used force, torture, and threats" against the doctors who had been arrested over their roles during the uprising, the source added.

But the pair, identified as Bin Howayel and Noora al-Khalifa, claimed they had done nothing wrong.

The acquittal of the officers outraged human rights activists and the duo's victims.

"That's a clear green light for all the torturers to keep on doing what they are doing," Dr. Fatema Haji, a physician at Bahrain's Salmaniya Hospital who was arrested and tortured by one of the officers, told Al-Akhbar.

"But what do you expect from a court that has acquitted all the killers that were found in the BICI report," she added, in reference to the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry report which found that the Bahraini government had implemented a systematic policy of torture and killing during the 2011 anti-government uprising.

"This verdict shows that the government is not serious about making real reforms," she said. "Torture is a tool still being used."

Haji previously issued a statement describing her arrest and torture in 2011 at the hands of Noora al-Khalifa. Her case was later dismissed.

She wrote of her detention:

[Noora al-Khalifa] handcuffed me putting my hands at my back. Then she started slapping me using her both hands each hand on one cheek and ... she did it for almost 15 minutes then ... she started beating me with both hands at the same time on both sides of my face at my jaws. I start to bleed and I was tasting blood in my mouth, I felt my head is numb and heavy. ... She electrocuted me maybe 1 or 2 times I felt like a shock wave in my head and it was very painful I felt the whole world is spinning then she start beating me on the head.

A number of other policemen are being investigated or are on trial for torturing detainees after hundreds of protesters and medics were arrested when a Saudi-led Gulf force entered Bahrain in a violent campaign to crush the protests in mid-March 2011, but they are rarely found guilty.

Authorities have failed to end the almost daily demonstrations against the US-backed autocratic rulers.

Bahrain is home to home to the US Fifth Fleet and is strategically situated across the Gulf from Iran.

Over 80 people have been killed in Bahrain since the violence first broke out on 14 February 2011 according to the International Federation for Human Rights.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)


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