Bahrain rejects political prisoners' release

Bahraini protesters run for cover from tear gas fired by riot police during clashes following religious ceremonies commemorating Ashura, in the village of Daih, west of the capital Manama, on 26 November 2012. (Photo: AFP - Mohammed al-Shaikh)

Published Monday, December 3, 2012

Bahrain's highest court on Monday rejected appeals by 13 opposition activists for release on bail, as it announced that their verdicts were set for January 7 in a trial over their roles in last year’s popular uprising.

The activists were arrested during a bloody crackdown on anti-government protesters last year and convicted by a military tribunal over trumped up charges of “setting up terror groups to topple the regime.”

An appeals court upheld life sentences for seven of the 13 activists in September, while the others received sentences ranging from five to 15 years.

Amnesty International on Friday called for the activists to be released.

The hearing took place in the presence of a delegation from the United Nation’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights which recently arrived to Bahrain to assess the kingdom’s human rights situation.

Opposition protests have continued in Bahrain almost daily despite a widespread crackdown on dissent. At least 80 people have been killed in the violence since the popular uprising erupted in February 2011.

Saudi troops were ushered into Bahrain, home to the US Fifth fleet, to help suppress the uprising in March 2011, but protests continue.

Bahrain’s tyrannical monarchy continues to target human rights activists, medics who have treated injured protesters, and journalists.

An independent commission formed last year to investigate cases of abuse at the hands of the government found the kingdom’s security forces responsible for torture, killing and the use “excessive force.”

Claims of torture and sexual abuse by security officials continue to ring out from Bahrain’s prisons.

Most recently, prisoners from section 3 of Bahrain’s Dry Dock detention center were allegedly attacked and tortured by riot police who raided the prison shortly after they released a statement on November 27 objecting to their arrests and mistreatment.

Bahrain’s interior ministry yesterday claimed that an investigation into the alleged attack “found no visible traces on prisoners” of torture.

(Al-Akhbar)

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