Bahrain court orders re-trial in high-profile case

April 30, 2012

Bahrain’s Court of Cassation on Monday ordered the re-trial in the Court of Appeals of the 21 defendants charged with attempting to topple the state government.

The court also reduced the prison term against Al Horr Yusuf Al Sameekh from two years to six months.

The 14 defendants held in prison and the seven others being tried in absentia received last year terms ranging between two years and life in prison by the National Safety Court of First Instance.

They were convicted on charges of establishing and managing terror groups to change the state royal regime by force and to change the constitution, communicating intelligence with an overseas terrorist organisation to commit hostile acts against Bahrain as well as a number of other charges.

The National Safety Court of First Instance in June sentenced to life in prison Abdul Wahab Hussain Ali Ahmad, Hassan Ali Mushaima, Abdul Hadi Abdullah Al Khawaja, Abdul Jalil Abdullah Al Singace, Mohammad Habib Al Saffaf (Al Miqdad), Saeed Mirza Ahmad, Abdul Jalil Radhi Makki and the London-based Saeed Abdulnabi Al Shehabi who was tried in absentia.

The court also sentenced ten defendants to 15 years in prison. Two defendants were sentenced to serve five years in jail, while one defendant was sentenced to two years in jail.

The verdict was challenged by the lawyers, but the National Safety Court of Appeal in September confirmed the convictions and upheld the sentences.

The case gained international dimensions after Al Khawaja, who also has the Danish nationality, started a hunger strike in February and he was subsequently transferred from prison to a public security clinic then to the military hospital, prompting the Danish foreign ministry to press for his transfer.

On April 8, Bahrain’s foreign minister, Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa, said that he “received an official letter from the Danish foreign minister to transfer Abdul Hadi Al Khawaja to Denmark on account of his Danish nationality.”

However, Shaikh Khalid said on his Twitter account that the matter would be decided by the judicial council overseeing the case.

“The Danish minister has the right to communicate with me over anyone who has the Danish nationality and we have the right to respond in accordance with the law,”
Shaikh Khalid said. “The application of the law does not exempt anyone on account of their nationality.”

The high judicial council, however, rejected the case after it argued that his case did not meet the required conditions for extradition.

Further calls to release Al Khawaja, including one by the United Nations secretary general, were considered by Bahrain as interference in its domestic affairs.

“The Kingdom of Bahrain reiterates its respect for the principles of human rights and freedoms within the framework of law and order and justice,” the foreign ministry said in a statement on April 10.

“However, it expresses its deep regret for the remarks made by a number of countries based on incorrect information and baseless allegations aimed at creating chaos and spreading terrorism and instability… Bahrain calls on all countries to respect its sovereignty and to abstain from interfering in its domestic affairs,” the statement said.
The ministry said that no other country had the right to request the release of a Bahrain-based national or foreigner who was sentenced by a court of law for committing a felony.

“Such a request is against international laws and every resident who lives in Bahrain has to comply with the law and order of the country.”

“Bahrain as a country that believes in the principles of the United Nations and based on the fact that it is independent and sovereign and that it supports peace, it stresses the significance of Article Two of the United Nations Charter.”

“The Article states that nothing contained in the Charter shall authorise the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter,” the ministry said.

Al Khawaja’s supporters, staging almost daily rallies calling for his release, have frequently clashed with security forces.

In October, Bahrain’s Public Prosecutor ordered the re-trial of 20 doctors and other health workers by a civilian court



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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