Bahrain Prosecutes 25 Persons for
Committing Violent and Terrorist Acts

On 28 October 2010, Bahrain began prosecuting 25 persons accused of inciting violence in accordance with Law No. (58) of 2006 related to the Protection of Society from Terrorist Acts. The first court session was held at the High Criminal Court III, and was presided over by Judge Ibrahim Al Zayed and the membership of Judges Ali Al Kaabi and Ali Al Dharani. It lasted for five and half hours.

The public hearing was attended by the families of the detainees, observers from Amnesty International, and a number of foreign embassies including the USA, France and the UK. Human rights activists, BHRM, NIHR, BHRS, fourteen lawyers, five MPs from Al Wefaq Society and a number of journalists and media representatives also attended the hearing.

The defence lawyers demanded to allow the media to publish the court proceedings, but the Court declined in line with the decision made by the Public Prosecutor on 26 August 2010. That decision was based on the sensitivity of the case, national security protection, upholding fair trial standards, and protection of the accused against rumours and defamation.

A high level official stated that the Court had given the accused a chance to reply to all charges against them, which include: forming an illegal group aiming at hindering the Constitution and laws, preventing the authorities from conducting their work, harming national unity, and attacking private and public rights and freedoms; joining and funding this illegal group, despite being aware of its terrorist acts, such as setting fires, damaging properties, and possession of explosive materials with the intention of threatening people’s lives; inciting hatred against the regime and other groups; spreading rumours inside and outside the country, which could undermine the State integrity; causing insecurity and harming public interest.

All the defendants – except one- said that they had been subjected to different kinds of torture. The judge documented the statements of the defendants, and read the charges to each one of them, allowing each a chance to respond. The defence lawyers requested a copy of the file, and that the detainees be referred to a forensic doctor to investigate torture allegations. Also, they requested that the detainees be transferred to a prison under the control of the Ministry of Interior instead of the National Security facilities, and finally that their families be allowed regular and longer visits.

The Public Prosecutor responded to this by stating that ‘on 23 September 2010, the families of the accused were allowed to visit them during their interrogation. Since then, visits have been taking place regularly, and around 10 family members were permitted to visit each detainee each time. Also, the Public Prosecutor did not receive any complaints from the families regarding visits. Furthermore, on 30 September 2010, the Public Prosecutor had issued an order allowing lawyers access to the accused`.

Judge Ibrahim Al Zayed agreed to most of the lawyers and detainees’ requests, and thus ordered that the detainees to be moved to another prison, that their lawyers be allowed to meet with them for longer periods and present them with documents relating to the case, and that five of the detainees be allowed the medical treatment they required, as well as investigating torture allegations. The next hearing will take place on 11 November 2010.

So far, this public trial seems transparent, honest, and fair, despite what was said about breaches committed during the first days of detention. On 12 October 2010, the Justice Minister stressed in an interview with Al Hayat newspaper that ”it is not possible for any evidence to be extracted through torture, because there is a principle in Bahraini courts called ‹legitimacy of evidence›. This obviously means that any evidence obtained under torture is inadmissible. Furthermore, courts do not even accept the mere suspicion of torture, let alone if evidence is provided, and the Court will investigate any torture allegations made by any detainee”.