Appeals court puts off alleged terror attack case to March 7

January 24, 2011

Riaz on a life support machine before he passed away

Bahrain’s Court of Appeals on Sunday adjourned to March 7 the trial of seven defendants sentenced to life in prison on charges of killing a Pakistani truck driver.

The seven who have been claiming their innocence were protesting a verdict issued by the High Criminal Court in July 2010 and hoped for a prompt release. A life sentence in Bahrain usually means 25 years.

According to the documents of the case, one of the most controversial in Bahrain’s modern history, the defendants were guilty of 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 rioters, reportedly, 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 that the 58-year-old driver sustained third degree burns on his upper body and died later from respiratory complications.

Police eventually arrested the alleged killers and attempts to reach an out-of-court settlement failed after the victim’s family rejected the deal brokered by Al Wefaq, Bahrain’s largest political society.

Riaz who worked with Unicorp for 15 years came from Jehlum district in Pakistan’s Punjab province and is survived by 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 called for the release of the defendants while Al Asala, the expression of Salfism in Bahrain, 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 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.



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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