Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): Bahrainis eagerly circulated the news that the Court of Cassation issued a ruling recently rejecting the appeal by former housing bank director Isa Sultan Al-Dhawadi and upholding his 10-year prison sentence for "seizure of public funds" amounting to about 1.5 million dinars.
However, the more important news was not discussed as it should have been. Isa Al-Dhawadi, who was the right hand of the former housing minister and currently deputy prime minister, Khalid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, will not go to jail, and he has not been put it for even a minute since the case was first filed against him in 2005 to date. That's for a simple reason; King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa granted him a special royal pardon despite his conviction.
Even though his name and picture were circulated in local newspapers at the time as a symbol of corruption, and despite the publication of his interrogation documents at the Public Prosecutor's Office and his striking confessions, Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa remained keen on paying him a visit at his Ramadan gathering in a gesture that reveals a lot. These visits often highlight the high political immunity enjoyed by those who receive such visits no matter who they are, even if the person is one of the most renowned convicts in corruption cases.
The high criminal court sentenced Al-Dhawadi to 10 years in prison on July 7, 2009, and he avoided the execution of the prison sentence by temporarily residing outside the country as he made arrangements to deal with his situation. Even the second defendant in the case, the financial controller, a european national who was sentenced to five years' imprisonment and deportation from the country after serving the term, also evaded the penalty by being allowed to leave the country shortly before announcing the verdict, after his request to lift the travel ban was accepted. Meanwhile, the third defendant, the accounts manager at the bank, was acquitted.
To date, Al-Dhawadi and all the other defendants have not paid the court's fine of 334,372 Dinars, in addition to the payment of 621,430 dinars to the Housing Bank. Instead he wrote poems of praise and flattery of the political leadership, which seemed to pay off well, including the poem written to the king in 2014, and published in the local press, which says: "He has two hands that are open to whoever pleads and turn away any harm. This is Bahrain, the legacy of the Al Khalifa family, hail Al Khalifa, the most worthy of praise."
The story of Isa Al-Dhawadi exemplifies the state protection of corruption in Bahrain, the ineffectiveness of the law, and the nominal existence of official institutions that are supposed to be fighting corruption. In 2017, Transparency International, an anti-corruption watchdog, recorded a rise in corruption in Bahrain, which was ranked 103rd on the corruption index instead of the 70th, which it occupied in 2016. These figures in fact do not reveal a secret that Bahrainis do not know; they know their government well. They know it has unwritten rules and laws, citizens are categorized in ranks and are not equal, imprisonment is not for everyone who violates the law, and that the law does not apply to in the first place.
"The law will not apply to you," said Bahraini Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman in a videotape revealed to the public during a visit to one of the officers involved in torturing Bahraini doctors. This is one of the most famous rules in Bahrain. The law does not apply to everyone.