Court sentences seven Bahrainis to life in prison, acquits three in Molotov murder case

July 5, 2010

The High Criminal Court on Monday sentenced seven Bahrainis to life in prison and acquitted three in the case of the murder a Pakistani national last year.

The 10 defendants were initially charged with causing the death of Shaikh Mohammad Riaz in March 2009 after they planned an attack on a police patrol at the entrance to Maameer, a village south of the capital Manama, where protesters were clashing with anti-riot police.

The verdict sparked dramatic scenes amid the relatives and friends of the seven accused around the court and caused an angry reaction by the lawyers who said that there had been conflicting testimonies.

According to the court documents, the rioters had hurled a Molotov cocktail at the car driven by Riaz, who was on his way home from work. A spokesperson from the ministry of health said following the incident that the driver sustained third degree burns on his upper body and died from respiratory complications. Police later arrested the alleged killers and attempts to reach an out-of-court settlement failed after the victim’s family rejected the deal brokered by a political society.

Riaz who worked with Unicorp for the past 15 years came from Jehlum district in Pakistan’s Punjab province and left behind a wife, three boys and two girls. The arrest and detention of the defendants had split Bahrain’s society between those who said that it was politically motivated and claimed that the suspects were innocent and those who called for stringent action against them for killing a man and terrorising society.

Al Wefaq, the largest society and parliamentary bloc, called for their release while Al Asala, the second largest parliamentary bloc, said that they should be executed. The case waded into controversy following confusion whether the suspects were among the dozens of people pardoned by King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa to promote civil peace. The authorities however at a later stage said that they were not covered by the amnesty, explaining that the victim’s family had to agree to their release.

Riaz was the second Pakistani to be killed in as many years in security-related attacks in and around villages. Sporadic unrest has hit several villages after the authorities detained several men in relation with the discovery of a plot to stage terror attacks as Bahrain celebrated its National Day. Even though the detainees were eventually released, the protests continued after the police arrested suspects in the killing of a Pakistani policeman in Karzakan and a Pakistani driver in Maameer.

In a confrontation between rioters and the police near Karazakan, a protester was shot and had to be given medical treatment. London-based Amnesty International said that Bahrain should investigate whether he was shot as a result of the riot police using excessive force in dealing with rioters.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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