2017: Marshal Assassination Attempt: Pretext for Execution of 6 Bahrainis
2018-01-10 - 7:27 am
Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): The Bahraini authorities did not wish to end 2017 any different than it started. Six Bahrainis were sentenced to death six days before the end of the year, just like three Bahrainis were executed for political reasons at the beginning of 2017.
On 25 December, the Supreme Military Court issued a verdict sentencing 6 Bahrainis to death, 15 years imprisonment and revocation of their Bahraini citizenship. The convicted were: Mubarak Adel Mubarak Mhanna, Fadel Al-Sayed Abbas Hassan Radhi, Sayed Alawi Hussain Alawi Hussain, Mohammed Abdulhasan Ahmed Al-Mitghawi, Murtada Majeed Ramadan Alawi (Al-Sindi) and Habib Abdullah Hassan Ali Al Jamri.
The court also sentenced seven others to seven years' imprisonment with the revocation of their Bahraini citizenship, acquitting five defendants of the charges raised against them in the indictment.
The authorities charged 18 people in this case: 10 detainees, 8 wanted inside and outside Bahrain, and as usual claimed that the case was based on charges of the formation of a "terrorist cell." This time; however, it added a new and unprecedented title i.e.: "The assassination of the commander-in-chief of the Bahrain Defense Force" This allegation constituted the regime's open pretext for the issuance of cruel and retaliatory judicial verdicts: Death sentences and stripping of nationality.
The story began in 2016. On September 26, a security force raided the house of the youth Fadel Abbas in Hamad Town. He was arrested and taken to an unknown destination. He was not allowed to meet with his family or to hire a lawyer. No one heard of his name after that, as his name and a picture of him were only made public via a statement by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) about three months after his arrest.
More than a month after this first disappearance, another Bahraini disappeared, Sayed Alawi Hussain (also from Diraz), but unlike the first, the silence was broken and a large media campaign was launched calling for revealing his whereabouts and situation.
The two men disappeared completely and were out of reach, except for a few phone calls, during which their exhausted voices clearly sounded like they were subjected to torture. The prosecution refused they hire lawyers. It was initially known that they were in the custody of the criminal investigations department, but despite appeals and pressures by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, the authorities gave no information about their fate. In December 2016, Sayed Alawi was subjected to brutal torture, according to witnesses. Unconfirmed reports indicated that the security services wanted to extract a confession from him incriminating specific figures, in order to implicate them in a case.
This was taking place while the political situation was extremely intensifying, after the supreme Shiite religious authority in Bahrain, Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim, was stripped of his Bahraini nationality and sentenced to prison, and following the open-ended sit-in that his supporters launched outside his house, as well as the dissolution of Al-Wefaq Society and the further arrests of human rights activists and political figures, mainly Nabeel Rajab.
On May 9, 2017, two weeks before the raid on Diraz, the first official statement on one of the persons subjected to forced disappearance was made. The Public Prosecutor's Office announced referring Sayed Fadel to a "military trial". About a month prior to that (April 4, 2017), the Bahraini King had ratified constitutional amendments that allow civilians to be tried in military courts. That was the beginning of the shocks.
A government source indicated that "for the first time, the military judiciary will look into a case of three individuals, one of whom a military personnel, while two others civilians, accused of committing crimes for terrorist purposes, linked to plotting to target military facilities and defense force personnel."
As the situation became worse, leading up to the Diraz raid on May 21 2017, which resulted in the deaths of five demonstrators and the imposition of a house arrest on Sheikh Qassim, the fates of the two men were lost, and their case seemed as if it was marginal. In the midst of the escalation of political events locally and regionally, there were no further reports on the case, and the silence continued.
On October 22, 2017, one year after the arrests of the two men, the military judiciary stated that "the security authorities specialized in combating terrorism in the Bahrain Defense Force (BFD), after obtaining information and conducting investigations, interrogations and surveillance, managed to arrest a "terrorist cell" that committed a number of terrorist crimes against the Bahrain Defense Force," adding that the Military Prosecution concluded after the completion of its investigations referring the defendants in this case to the competent military court.
After one day, the trial sessions began in this case. Unlike the long period, one year, it took to build this case, the pace of its hearings was rapid; five hearings in less than a month, all of which were secret.
It was then discovered that among the defendants in the same case, who were held by the military, was the other disappeared man, Sayed Alawi, i.e. about a year after his forced disappearance.
Sayed Alawi, 43, is a communications engineer who worked for Batelco. He was abducted from his workplace on October 24, 2016 by unknown persons. He was only known for his religious activity that he practiced in his village Diraz.
No one expected Sayed Alawi would be associated with the first disappeared man Sayed Fadel in the same case, as there was no connection between the two men. In the meantime, the number of enforced disappearances increased and no one understood what was happening, until all of them were included in the same case.
It was then leaked that the focus of the case was on a charge accusing the group of plotting to assassinate Marshal Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, the Commander-in-Chief of Bahrain Defence Force (BDF)! It seemed more as a to unfunny joke.
The main defendants arrested in the case are :Mubarak, a soldier serving in the army (from the Sunni sect), Sayed Fadhel Abbas, Sayed Alawi Hussain, Mohammed Al-Shehabi and Mohammed Al-Mitghawi. As for the other defendant he was martyr Mohammed Kadhem Zainuddin in the attack on Diraz on May 23, 2017.
Others were also accused in the case by smaller roles, bringing the total number of defendants to 18, some of whom were already held in custody on other cases, at Dry Dock Prison and Jaw Prison. Other were at large, accused in other cases, until they were arrested during the raid on Diraz.
The lawsuit charged the group with "forming an army called the Mahdi Army" to carry out operations against military targets.
The authorities claim that Sayed Fadel met with the first main defendant, Mubarak, and offered him a job in exchange for a sum of money. Mubarak was a newly recruited soldier in the army who guards in a tower in a Defense Force camp. He was known to have a record in drug abuse cases. The authorities claim that he "was enticed by drugs, women and money" and that members of the cell succeeded in persuading him to do the task by using his military weapon to assassinate the Marshal, offering him a sum of money.
The authorities further allege that Mubarak agreed to engage in military training for the other defendants and receive money for every training he attended, adding that he "even participated in demonstrations and riots against the police, as well as religious activities and funeral processions."
The authorities also claim that members of the cell promised "to pay Mubarak (100,000 dinars) if he succeeded in carrying out the operation," as if he would have been able to safely get out of the Ministry of Defense, if he could actually managed to carry out such an operation at all!
According to the authorities' account, the plan to assassinate the Marshal was that Mubarak waits for him until he arrives to inspect the military unit where he works, since the Marshal usually inspects the military units from time to time.
The authorities accuse Sayed Alawi of funding Mubarak, claiming that the sums of money came from the fifth defendant Mohammed Al-Mitghawi, and the sixth accused martyr Mohammed Kadhem Zainuddin! They further allege that they were also in contact with Sayed Murtada Al-Sindi (an opposition cleric residing in Iran), who is the financier and planner of the operation.
It is unknown why all these defendants were referred to military courts, although they were all arrested before the constitutional amendment, which gave the military judiciary the jurisdiction to try civilians. It even seems that the Military Courts Act amendment was tailored specifically for this case.
The other thing that raised the eyebrows of jurists is the death sentences issued against six defendants, while- even if the army's account is correct- the crime was not completed to receive a death penalty. The charge of assassination attempt is also directed at one defendant only, as explained by the legal adviser Ibrahim Sarhan in a comment: "The death sentences were not expected by lawyers and jurists since the indictment and the adaptation of the Military Prosecution, which was accepted by the Supreme Military Court in the same manner, which is the attempted assassination charge, was only issued against the first defendant and the other defendants were charged with inciting and supporting the first defendant only. Legally, attempting to commit a crime whose penalty is death calls for life imprisonment since the crime was not fully completed."
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