Bahraini teen activist faces up to 80 years in prison

A Bahraini protestor protects himself from tear gas fired by riot police during clashes following a protest to demand more rights and against the ruling regime in the village of Bilad al-Qadeem, in a suburb of Manama, on 15 June 2013. (Photo: AFP - Mohammed al-Shaikh)

By: Yumna Marwan

Published Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Bahraini court sentenced an 18-year-old opposition member, Akbar Ali al-Kishi, to 10 years in prison Wednesday over charges of blowing up gas cylinders, family and activists said, adding that the young activist faces several more decades of imprisonment.

Five others were accused of the same crime and were all handed down a ten-year sentence, Kishi’s father told Al-Akhbar, while one of them was tried in absentia.

“They didn’t allow [his mother and I] to be at the court hearing when they gave him the sentence,” he added.

The young activist has already been sentenced to two charges adding up to 16 years prior to Wednesday’s hearing, his father said, and will now have to serve a total of 26 years in prison.

He is currently imprisoned and is facing several other charges in court.

“If he is convicted of all the charges accused of him, he will be facing up to 80 years in prison,” Kishi said over a phone interview.

Bahraini authorities repeatedly tortured, beat and insulted Kishi on different occasions and one of the officers threatened to rape him, the Bahraini Center for Human Rights (BCHR) previously reported.

“A month and a half ago, they arrested him, tortured him and then forced him to sign a confession to the cylinder crime,” Kishi’s father said.

“We can only visit him in prison for half an hour, sometimes 10 minutes, and only after a strip search. We cannot bring him anything with us,” he added.

Kishi had been arrested in 2010, 2012, and 2013 and was avoiding arrest during 2011, Mortada al-Moqdad, an activist close to the case, told Al-Akhbar.

“This is only an act of revenge against people in the opposition group who did not back down,” Moqdad said.

Kishi was wounded in April 2009 by birdshot pellets and was taken into the hospital in “serious condition,” after Bahraini forces attacked a protest in the village of Sanabis, the BCHR said.

Cases of beatings and torture in Bahraini jails in order to pressure inmates to sign confessions are regularly documented by human rights groups. In 2011, Bahrain security forces led a heavy-handed crackdown against an uprising critical of the ruling Khalifa dynasty.

However, the Gulf kingdom has seen intermittent protests since then.

In April, Bahrain cancelled the visit of the UN envoy on torture, Juan Mendez, for the second time, arousing suspicion.

"It is effectively a cancellation as no alternative dates were proposed nor is there a future road map to discuss," Mendez said. "This postponement could be perceived as if there is something to hide."

(Al-Akhbar)

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