Appeals court upholds five life sentences, commutes two

December 26, 2011

Bahrain’s court of appeals on Sunday upheld life sentences against five defendants in the murder case of a Pakistani man. The court however commuted two life-in-prison verdicts to 15 years in jail each. The seven men were sentenced to life in prison by the High Criminal Court in July 2010 in a case that saw three other suspects acquitted.

The 10 defendants were charged with causing the death of Shaikh Mohammad Riaz, 58, in March 2009 after they planned an attack on a police patrol in Maameer, a village south of the capital, Manama, where protesters were clashing with anti-riot police.

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. Attempts to reach an out-of-court settlement failed after the victim’s family rejected the deal brokered by members of a political group. Riaz who worked with Unicorp for the 15 years was from Jehlum district in Pakistan’s Punjab province. He left behind a wife, three sons and two daughters.
The arrest and detention of the defendants split Bahrain’s society between those who said that it was a politically motivated attack and claimed that the suspects were innocent and those who called for stringent action against them for killing a man and terrorising the public.

Al Wefaq, the largest opposition society, called for their release while Al Asala, the flagship of Salafism, said that they should be executed. The case became further mired in controversy following confusion over 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.



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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