For Immediate Release: April 28, 2011
Washington DC – Human Rights First is gravely concerned at the death sentences imposed on four young men in Bahrain today after proceedings that fell short of international fair trial standards. A military court trial, held behind closed doors, convicted them of the murder of two policemen during protests in March. Death sentences were imposed on: Ali Abdullah Hassan Al Sankis, Qassim Hassan Matar Ahmad, Saeed Abduljalil Saeed and Abdulaziz Abdulridha Ibrahim Hussain. Three others were given life sentences.
Bahraini TV aired video of the convicted men confessing to the murder of the policemen. Human Rights First is concerned that these confessions may have been extracted by use of torture. There have been many reports of Bahraini protesters detained by the security forces being subjected to beatings and other forms of torture.
“This brings Bahrain’s crackdown to a new level, and is likely to inflame tensions there and across the region,” said Brian Dooley of Human Rights First. “The sentences announced today should be annulled, and the charges against the four young men should be examined through a fair, open legal process.”
Human Rights First is also concerned that while prosecutions of protesters accused of violence against the security forces have moved forward there appears to have been no progress in official investigations into acts of violence against peaceful demonstrators, and against medical personnel seeking to provide assistance to the injured.
The Bahraini authorities said yesterday they were releasing over 300 detainees “on health grounds,” but more than 400 have been referred to military courts. One of those detained is lawyer Mohammed al-Tajer, who was due to represent some of those accused of the policemen’s murder.