2018: 9 New Death Penalties, 5 on Death Row and 147 Life Sentences
2019-01-08 - 3:07 am
Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) named 2018 as a death penalty year, condemning the Bahraini judiciary's determination in issuing death sentences, which have reached 35 since 2011, 3 of which were executed.
Last year, nine new death sentences were handed down to political prisoners. A court presided over by renowned judge, Al-Dhahrani, sentenced two youths, Ali Hakim Al-Arab and Ahmad Al-Malali, to death early 2018, over charges of breaking out of Jaw prison and killing a policeman, although international organizations confirmed that they were being tortured and called for dropping the verdict.
A month later, the same judge sentenced Mousa Abdullah Mousa Jaafar to death, over charges of murdering a policeman in the Karana bombing.
In November, a Bahraini court sentenced four Bahraini citizens to death for "detonating a bomb targeting a security patrol in which the Interior Minister claimed one of its personnel was killed in the village of Diraz. Among the four sentenced to death is an imprisoned young man, Hussein Abdallah Marhoun.
The year ended with the issuance of two death sentences against both Zuhair Ibrahim and Mohammad Mahdi, after being charged with targeting a police bus near the footbridge, which left one security officer killed and others injured, according to the authorities.
The death row in Bahrain expanded during 2018, as five final death penalties have been issued by the Court of Cassation, which require awaiting the king's ratification for execution, since they are not subject to appeal.
Although it overturned the execution of Salman Isa for a second time, on June 4, 2018, the Court of Cassation upheld his death penalty over "killing a Pakistani policeman in Al-Ekr", as claimed by the security authorities.
The Court of Cassation upheld a death sentence against Maher Al-Khabbaz over the case of the murder of a policeman in Al-Sehla district. A United Nations committee revealed last year a letter it had previously sent to the Government of Bahrain asking it to reconsider the death sentence of Maher Al-Khabbaz due to using his confession, which was extracted under torture, as a basis of evidence.
Final rulings were issued by the Court of Cassation to execute Hussein Marzouk, who according to the authorities was allegedly behind a bombing that led to the death of Fakhriya Muslim, as well as ordering the execution of Sayed Ahmad Al-Abbar and Hussein Mahdi over charges of murdering a Pakistani policeman in Karabad.
However, for the first time since 2011, the king commuted the death sentences issued against two political defendants, a group of six who were convicted by the military judiciary of plotting to assassinate the BDF commander-in-chief. UN experts said the death sentences against the group violated the grounds for a fair trial and the defendants should not have been convicted in the first place.
In the same context, the Court of Cassation also reversed for the first time a death penalty ruling that was issued at the end of 2015 aginst both Hussein Mousa and Mohammad Ramadan, at the request of the Public Prosecutor and raised by the Minister of Justice for reconsider the "emergence of new documents that were not known at the time of trial", the prosecution claimed.
While the onset of 2018 witnessed the arrest of Hussein Al-Rashid, a young fugitive fleeing a former death sentence, the public security authorities had concluded a campaign of intimidation against those sentenced to death in Jaw Prison, where prison police attacked the unarmed building, and removed all those sentenced to death, handcuffed to their backs. They were forced to stand for long hours, tricked into thinking that these were their last days and that their execution would soon be carried out.
While Bahraini monitors criticized Bahraini laws for including more than 83 articles that stipulate the death penalty, and organizations called for the repeal of this penalty, both on the legislative and judicial levels, and for not using it as a tool to punish the opposition, the government approved in May 2018 a bill to toughened the penalty for the manufacture and use of Molotov cocktails to reach the death sentence.
As for life imprisonment, the most prominent of these sentences were issued against the leader of the Bahraini opposition, Sheikh Ali Salman and his companions Sheikh Hassan Sultan and Ali Al-Aswad, after the Court of Appeal overturned their acquittal on charges of collaborating with Qatar.
The king also approved a life sentence against the six main defendants in case of "planning the assassination of the Marshal", after their death sentences were commuted.
Moreover, 138 new life imprisonment sentences were issued against political prisoners, bringing the total number of life sentences to 147 in 2018 only.
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