Bahrain sentences medics who helped injured protesters
Published Thursday, June 14, 2012
Nine Bahraini medics who helped injured protesters after they were attacked by security forces were sentenced to up to five years in jail by the country's appeals court on Thursday, while another nine were acquitted.
The doctors and nurses worked at Salmaniya Medical complex in the capital Manama which was stormed by security forces after the crackdown on anti-government protests at nearby Pearl Square in March 2011.
They had appealed against their initial sentences, which they insist were obtained using confessions extracted under torture.
Those who were handed a sentence of one year in prison or less and have already served their terms are expected to be released, their defense lawyers said.
Remaining in jail will be consultant orthopedic surgeon Ali Alekri, whose initial 15-year jail term was cut to five years, and Ibrahim al-Damstani, secretary general of the Bahraini Nursing Society, sentenced to three years.
The medics faced a plethora of charges, the most serious of which was occupying the vital medical center and possessing weapons.
They were handed jail sentences of between five to 15 years by a semi-military tribunal but retried in a civil court after the public prosecutor dismissed their confessions extracted as unsound following evidence of torture.
At least 50 people have been killed in the past year as government forces have suppressed pro-democracy protests across the country.
Government-backed crackdowns continue and the leading opposition political party Al-Wefaq claimed on Thursday a five-year-old boy had been hospitalized after being hit by a shotgun pellet.
The group said Ahmed Al-Naham was shot while standing near his father as he sold fish.
A video allegedly showing riot police carrying the injured child was posted on YouTube, but could not be independently verified.