2019 Roundup: Oddest Story of the Year: Lyrica Drug Dealers Acquitted, Sharifa Siwar Incriminated

2020-01-08 - 9:27 p

Bahrain Mirror (2019 Roundup): The story began in the second half of March 2019, when Sharifa Siwar (who holds a PhD in psychotherapy) disclosed a critical case when she spoke of a network that promotes narcotic pills in Hamad Town Intermediate Girls School.

The Bahraini community was shocked by the information Dr. Sharifa exposed live via her Instagram account in a conversation between her and a student who was expelled from school over the charge of promoting the Lyrica drug. Student Rukaya revealed that she had fell victim to a large drug cartel, after someone threatened her at gunpoint to cooperate with the group that would promote the pills inside the school. The student also revealed that there are gangs practicing immoral acts inside the school. Dr. Sharifa pointed out that among the people behind the gang are influential figures. According to information, one of the individuals involved was a member of the ruling Al Khalifa family and another was an Interior Ministry officer.

The video was widely circulated on social media and caused a huge stir locally, turning into a resounding public opinion issue in Bahrain.

Competent parties, represented by the ministries of education and interior, had to take action to calm down the public opinion, as parents were outraged and concerned about their children in schools.

The Ministry of Education only took some timid measures, including the suspension of two students for a full academic year. Meanwhile, the criminal investigation department summoned Dr. Siwar and interrogated her regarding the information she mentioned in her live stream with the student, Rukayah. The Ministry of Interior said that the General Directorate of Anti-Corruption and Economic & Electronic Security has summoned everyone involved in the case, indicating that it had not received any report about the case earlier.

"The statements of those in the video have been taken and investigations are ongoing," it said, adding that "no one is above the law which applies to everyone without exception."

Noting that it will keep the public informed with developments and latest information about the case, it urged people not to circulate false information that might be defamatory to any of the parties involved in the case.

The Ministry of Interior's statement confirms that it has not received any complaints from the Ministry of Education, which confirms the accusations made against it that it has been covering up the case that has stirred the Bahraini public opinion.

The impact of the video reached the Cabinet session held on Monday (March 25, 2019) which tried to absorb the public anger. The prime minister gave directives to conduct a comprehensive probe into the Hamad Town Intermediate Girls School incident, and ordered the formation of a high-level committee, under the chairmanship of Deputy Premier, Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa.

The Public Prosecution claimed that it would take all necessary measures to reveal the truth revolving around the incident and those involved in the crimes, and will announce the findings within the limits of what the law allows.

Not a single person involved in the case has been identified through the alleged investigations. However, the surprise was that more than two weeks later, after the public calmed down, the lawsuit against Sharifa Siwar was accepted.

On April 11, the Public Prosecution accused Siwar of publicly slandering the plaintiffs, publishing false news and misusing social media outlets. The prosecution said that "Lyrica" is not among the types of narcotic substances whose possession is considered incriminating, but is a drug that is forbidden to be dispensed except by prescription, and that the drug was not seized with any of the students at any time."

It said that Siwar, who "broadcast the video and the interviews directly via her personal account, was contrary to the nature, traditions and values of her profession as a psychiatrist. Her violation of these principles led to her involvement."

On April 23, the Cabinet was informed about the results of the investigation into the incident of the Hamad Town Intermediate Girls' School and concluded that the incident was individual and that there was no drug abuse or dealing at that school. The reports also revealed that the allegations included in the video clip by Dr. Sharifa Siwar were false and would fall under defamation and slander, and therefore have been referred to the judiciary.

This is how Lyrica and its dealers were acquitted. The file was closed and indictment file of Sharifa Siwar on charge of slandering the plaintiffs, publishing false news and misusing social media outlets was opened. Her first trial session commenced on September 23 and she was accompanied by lawyer Mohammad Al-Othman.

Two weeks prior to her verdict, Sharifa suffered a car accident which left her with a broken hand and leg. The accident occurred in Salmabad area, when a Range Rover collided with Dr. Sharifa's parked car while she was inside.

The Minor Criminal Court sentenced Dr. Sharifa Siwar to one year in jail, fined her 200 BD and set 500 BD as bail for suspending the execution of the sentence until appeal of the verdict. She appealed the sentence.

Days after the verdict, Al-Ayyam newspaper reported that "the Public Prosecution will summon a psychiatrist for interrogation about covering up a rape crime of a girl." Sharifa denied to her followers that she was the one intended after people asked her about the matter. However, she was surprised to find out on November 24 that she was the intended one and that she was in fact summoned for interrogation and to appear before the public prosecution. A new case against her was opened.

Dr. Shairfa Siwar is now waiting for the ruling of the Appeals Court, whose first hearings began on December 19. The last session was adjourned until January 7 for summoning the attesting witnesses. So what will 2020 hold for Dr. Sharifa?

Arabic Version