Bahrein: Doctors still accused of occupying hospital and possessing weapons
Published on Mon, 2011-10-24 17:22
The Supreme Criminal Appeals Court of Bahrain dropped on Sunday several charges against 20 doctors accused of serious offences related to the political unrest occurred in February. “This is a positive step and it is good for the justice system,” said Bahrain Human Rights Society secretary-general Dr Abdullah Al Deerazi, reported Gulf Daily News.
Confessions signed by the suspects will not be included in evidence against them as part of an appeal now underway at the Supreme Criminal Appeals Court. The accused said some of those confessions were extracted by torture.
Twenty doctors, nurses and paramedics were condemned to 5, 10 and 15 years imprisonment this month by a military court “for their involvement in the recent deplorable unrest”. But Richard Sollom, deputy director of Physicians for Human Rights, assured that those accused "provided ethical and life-saving care to protesters who were shot at and injured by the security forces”.
At least 21 people were killed during the crackdown, according to the most authoritative version disclosed by the Bahrain Human Rights Society, a focal point of Social Watch in that country.
Prosecutors announced during a hearing on Sunday that charges of inciting hatred against the regime, participating in illegal gatherings, reporting falsified news and not carrying out their medical profession properly had been dropped.
The Prosecution will focus “on the most serious crimes, exercising discretion to do so in the interests of justice," it reported on a public statement. So it has "dropped certain charges even though they are crimes that occurred in the midst of more serious criminal conduct," it added
The suspects will now only face charges of illegally occupying Salmaniya Medical Complex during the unrest and possessing unlicensed weapons.
Prosecutors said the suspects will not be held in custody throughout the duration of the appeal.
However, the defenders requested the court to stop the appeal until allegations of mistreatment of the medics, who had earlier been detained in custody, was investigated.
They said the earlier sentences imposed by the National Safety Court still stood and the hearing was only an appeal.
Lawyers also asked for the medics to be allowed to return to their jobs and have the remaining travel bans against some of the suspects lifted.
Seventeen of the suspects, 12 men and five women, attended Sunday's hearing.
Two other medics remain at large and another is reportedly in a critical condition in hospital and unable to attend.