Bahrain court to look into medical professionals’ case

October 7, 2011

The 20 Bahraini doctors and paramedical staff sentenced last month by the national safety lower court will be retried by the civilian court of appeals, the attorney general has said.

The health professionals were found guilty by the National Safety Court of First Instance on charges related to events at the state-run Salmaniya Medical Complex in February and March and were sentenced on September 28 to prison terms ranging between five and 15 years.

Charges included taking over specific Salmaniya Medical Complex sections, possessing unlicensed weapons, taking part in illegal protests on hospital grounds, refusing to treat certain patients, misusing and stealing medicine and hospital equipment, propagating false news and inciting sectarian hatred.

The mainly doctors and nurse denied the charges and the sentences were criticized as “harsh”.

Under Bahrain’s laws, the verdicts could be appealed and the National Safety Court of Appeals would look into them. The appeals court decision can also be challenged at the Court of Cassation.

The national safety courts were set up after the National Safety Act, emergency laws, was announced in March following four weeks of demonstrations and unrest. The act was ended on June 1, two weeks ahead of its deadline, but the courts continued looking at the cases they had already received.

“The Department of Public Prosecutions has studied the judgment rendered by the National Safety Court on September 28 against certain medical personnel and determined that the cases should be retried before the ordinary courts,” Ali Alboainain, the attorney general, said on Wednesday evening. “The Department has jurisdiction to do so by virtue of its authority to ensure the rightful application of the law.”

The retrial will be conducted before the highest civil court in Bahrain, he said.

“The department seeks to establish the truth and to enforce the law while protecting the rights of the accused. By virtue of the retrials, the accused will have the benefit of full reevaluation of evidence and full opportunity to present their defences. No doctors or other medical personnel may be punished by reason of the fulfillment of their humanitarian duties or their political views.”

Pending the outcome of the retrials, the accused will not be detained, Alboainain said.

He said that he “will continue to assess judgments of the National Safety Court in the interest of ensuring compliance with the rule of law,” and where he deems it appropriate, he will move for retrials before the ordinary judiciary.



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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