BREAKING NEWS / PRESS RELEASE: Bahrain – 7 of 10 Ma’ameer detainees found guilty and sentenced to life


Islamic Human Rights Commission

5 July 2010 (0830 GMT)
For immediate release

BREAKING NEWS / PRESS RELEASE:  Bahrain – 7 of 10 Ma’ameer detainees found guilty and sentenced to life;
IHRC Trial Observer witnesses excessive use of police force against convicted men, their relatives and supporters inside and outside court;
Tear gas and rubber bullets used to disperse demonstrators outside court room

Islamic Human Rights Commission Trial Observer, Abed Choudhury has reported the judgment (0830 GMT) in the case of the Ma’ameer 10 in Manama[1].  Seven of the ten men have been found guilty of murdering a Pakistani truck driver, despite numerous investigations by human rights groups, including IHRC, which found that evidence used against the suspects was either non-existent or suspect in itself.  In some cases the police interrogators used torture and threats to extract confessions. All the men were activists against the on-going discrimination against Bahrain’s majority Shi’a community.

A life sentence in the context of Bahrain usually means 25 years.
The verdict and sentencing in this trial was only a few minutes long, and no explanation behind the judgement was given, reports Choudhury.  He further states that as the judge left the room, the courtroom erupted into emotional scenes:

“The convicted men began chanting Allahu Akbar (God is Great) while relatives and supporters began shouting in protest at the sentences.  At this stage, police in the courtroom became very heavy handed.  I saw some 10 – 15 police officers pushing one prisoner Jasim Hassan Ahmed, against a wall and using extreme force against him.  Likewise relatives and supporters including women, were surrounding by disproportionate numbers of officers using force.

“Immediately outside the courtroom, police were trying to push back supporters and relatives.  One of the convicted men’s father Ali Farhan shouted at a police officer.  Again some 10 – 15 police officers followed him, and threw him on the floor and arrested him.  Many of the supporters rushed to him to help and more police officers then rushed in.

“In the meantime riot police arrived and tried to disperse the protestors.  As this was going on we heard a loud bang and were told that tear gas had been fired.”

By 0845 GMT, Choudhury reports that the demonstrators were mainly dispersed, but he has received reports that tear gas and rubber bullets had been used by riot police to move supporters.
Choudhury also came upon the sister of one of the convicted men receiving help and treatment from other supporters.  One witness that the woman, herself a lawyer, had confronted police officer about the convictions, and was then set upon by female police officers and beaten.
More information on the sentencing and aftermath to follow. For comment from the IHRC office en London, please call (+44) 20 8904 4222 or (+44) 7958 522196.

Notes to Editor:

[1] The Ma’ameer 10’s case has been monitored by IHRC.  To read a short report into one of the previous hearing please visit:
Report of the Trial Monitor in the Karzakan and Ma’ameer Cases Bahrain, 2009
pages 9- 10.

[2] Jassim Hasan Ahmed’s arrest was also a violent affair. He was beaten in front of his young nephew during his arrest even though he did not resist arrest. He was left hanging from the ceiling at the police station for several days; they also used pepper spray on him. Jasim’s case is extremely worrying as his family claim that the public prosecutor, Usama Al Asfoor, threatened to rape Jasim’s wife and personally torture Jasim unless he signed the confession.  [ENDS]
The Islamic Human Rights Commission is an NGO in special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.
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