Bahrain military court sentences protesters, students

[JURIST] A Bahrain [JURIST news archive] civilian-military court on Monday sentenced numerous protesters to lengthy prison terms, including 14 people who were sentenced to life (or 25 years) in prison for their involvement in the death of a Pakistani man that was "committed with a terrorist aim." The National Safety Court of Appeal, a court composed of military prosecutors and civilian and military judges, also issued sentences [Reuters report] that include 15 people sentenced to 15 years for the attempted murder of military personnel, as well as acts of protest and vandalism, and six university students sentenced to 15 years for the intent to murder several people at a university after holding them hostage. The Bahrain courts have been criticized for their severity [BBC report], especially in light of the five 15-year prison terms issued to doctors and nurses convicted of rendering aid to protesters. Bahraini doctors and nurses on Saturday urged the UN to investigate claims of abuse and due process violations [JURIST report] in relation to their recent convictions. Last week, the National Safety Court of Appeal sentenced [JURIST report] one anti-government protester to death for killing a police officer and gave lengthy prison sentences to medical personnel, including doctors, for providing treatment to injured protesters during the country's uprising.

Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa [official profile] announced in August that he will dismiss charges against some of the protesters [JURIST report] detained for their participation in pro-democracy demonstrations in the country. In June, Khalifa announced that an independent commission will investigate human rights violations [JURIST report] related to the country's pro-democracy protests. Earlier that month, the OHCHR announced that Bahrain agreed to permit a UN commission [JURIST report] to investigate human rights violations related to protests. The National Safety Courts were instituted in mid-March under Khalifa's three-month state of emergency [JURIST report] and have been internationally criticized, most recently [JURIST report] by Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website]. The court sentenced nine citizens [JURIST report] to 20 years in prison for kidnapping a police officer in May. In April, the court handed the death sentence to four protesters, a rarity in Bahrain, and upheld the sentences [JURIST reports] for two of the men who were accused of murdering police officers. All of the charges levied in the National Safety Court have been disputed by Bahraini citizens and international rights organizations.

 

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