Amnesty Reveals New Details about Marshal Assassination Cases, Urges King to Allow Retrial of Defendants
2018-05-04 - 6:38 p
Bahrain Mirror: Amnesty International issued a report on Wednesday (May 2, 2018) that includes new details about last moments of trial of suspects accused of planning to assassinate Bahrain Defence Force Commander-in-Chief Khalifa bin Ahmad. The military court upheld death sentences against 4 individuals, including 3 civilians, before the king commuted the sentences to life imprisonment.
The organization said that before the court began its final session on 25 April, the heads of the families of the four men sentenced to death were summoned to attend a meeting in the Military Court building, where they were told that they would have to be back the next day at 9:30am for another meeting, without any further information. The four heads of families went to the meeting, during which they were informed that the King had commuted the death sentences to life in prison. Two hours later, following the completion of the formalities, the decision was officially announced on the Bahrain News Agency website.
The four are: Sayed Alawi Hussain Al-Alawi, Fadhel Radhi, Mohammed Al-Mitghawi, and Mhanna Mhanna.
While the commutation of the death sentences of the 4 is a welcome step, it remains a far cry from the right of these individuals to enjoy a fair trial before a competent court.
Amnesty further stated that only one lawyer was present during the first trial session, on October 23, 2018, after having found out incidentally that it was taking place.
During a hearing on November 2, 2017, the defence lawyers requested that they be handed copies of the files but the military prosecution objected to this. The court upheld the objection stating that the files contained confidential information and that the lawyer would be able to consult the files in the security of the court building only.
The defence lawyers also requested in court that their clients be examined by forensic doctors as the defendants looked in bad shape, but the court turned down the request.
Additional concerns related to this trial include the fact that the BDF Commander-in-Chief, who is mandated to appoint the judges in military courts, was himself the alleged assassination target, thereby calling into question the independence and impartiality of the military court's judges in this case.
The organization expressed grave concern about the unfair trial conducted by the Military Court in Bahrain, in which four men, saw their death sentences confirmed by the Military Court of Cassation. Despite the King's commutation of the sentences to life imprisonment the following day, Amnesty International remains concerned that these sentences were issued following unfair trials.
Military trials of civilians are inherently unfair as all officials in military courts, including judges, are serving members of the military, it added.
Amnesty International called on the King of Bahrain to quash the convictions of the seven men, allowing for their retrial before a competent ordinary court that meets international fair trial standards, and to investigate allegations of torture, and if confirmed, exclude all evidence obtained under torture and other ill-treatment, as well as not to resort to the death penalty.
The organization further urged the King to repeal the constitutional amendment that allows the trial of civilians by military courts in line with international standards on fair trial and reiterated its call on the Bahraini authorities to put an end to the practice of revocation of nationality that would render an individual stateless.
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