(5) The Fourth Criminal Court: The Legislator
2014-07-10 - 7:32 م
"Justice as Sedition is a fashion.."
Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): in the novel of "the devil and Miss Prym" the village gets surprised by its new legislator "Ahab" who sent for carpenters from nearby villages and gave them secret designs to work on. After straight days of work, an enormous monument was raised in the village square and was covered with a huge sheet...On the last day, the legislator called the villagers to celebrate the country's new monument. Everyone anxiously and patiently stood to know the statue of his village which will be known by from now on. The monument which is raised in any place becomes its sign, thus, the villagers were anxious to see their village's new sign.
Ahab stood in front of the villagers, who left their homes to celebrate, and without delivering an introductory speech, he unveiled the monument. The villagers stood as if pinned to the ground when they saw that the monument was but a full-equipped gallows platform with a rope and an opening in the ground covered with wax to last longer.
Astonishingly as the villagers stood, the legislator started reading his new laws. After he finished, he warned the villagers to abide by the law or leave the village. That was the only thing he announced and then did not utter a single word. He then walked out the audience leaving them filled with horror.
The villagers had no choice but to see the noose standing in the square of their village always gazing at their necks. Moreover, it became their talk, confused eye and the thing that will embrace their necks. Whatever they do, the villagers see a staring noose. The gallows looked at the villagers, and the villagers looked at the gallows. Gradually, the rebels' initial defiance gave way to fear. The gallows remained in place for ten years. The wood withstood the weather well, but the rope occasionally had to be replaced with a new one.
The gallows was never used. The mere sight of the gallows was enough to threaten to hardly strike everyone who disobeys Ahab's laws. Each villager had his own gallows deep inside which made him obey the laws and fear from the legislator Ahab. Some left the village and the other followed Ahab's new rules.
We can say that the ‘fourth criminal court" erected by the legislator (the king) in July 2013, is the same gallows erected by the legislator (Ahab). In addition, all the Bahraini judiciary in its political part is not but the authority's erected gallows, particularly this court, because it was recently established for a specific entrusted role; the legislator's (Ahab) gallows same role. There were two differences between both gallows; Ahab's gallows was not used, yet could control the villagers and made the rebels' initial defiance gave way to fear. However, the King's gallows (the fourth criminal court) was used and despite all its issued sentences against the political opponents and protesters which reached death sentence sometimes and imprisonment for more than 100 years, it could not restrain or stop the protest movement in Bahrain.
We proposed in the previous parts the course of escalating security through which "the fourth criminal court" was established. In 2013, the authority direction became determined with what the PM called "rooting up" the popular protest movement where he repeated in his meeting: "Bahrain will soon turn a page from its history to start another". The authority believes that it can start a new page in its history through "penalty harshening" against the protestors and "unhesitantly moving towards tightening the screws on the popular protest movement until reaching "rooting up".
Before 2010, there were only two criminal courts in Bahrain, the first criminal court and the second criminal court. In 2010, the third criminal court was formed to consider the increasing number of political cases caused by the protests at that time. The third court was regarded as a strict one. It deliberated a large number of cases such as; 14 August 2010 Case and Daih bombing Case. This court could not finish dealing with all the cases it was established for because of 2011 events and what followed of political arrests releases. The national safety law returned after a while and most of the cases proposed to this court were misdemeanors.
Changing the misdemeanor cases (protesting, blocking the streets, burning tires and throwing Molotov bombs) to criminal cases (terrorism), it is not possible anymore for the three supreme criminal courts to handle the great number of cases that were being referred to. However, the criminal cases entrusted with these courts used to take months before issuing the verdicts. Thus, it was badly needed to establish a new fourth court to achieve the following objectives:
1. Make the largest number of activists and protestors stand before the court and endure the huge number of the daily increasing cases. .
2. Issue strict and harsh sentences against the activists and protestors reaching death sentence sometimes..
3. Speed up the trials and issue judicial decisions against the activists and protestors in record periods. .
4. Iterated that whoever deals with the protestors are terrorists. .
5. Warn the other activists and protestors about their fate of harsh penalties in case they continued their activities and movements. .
The fourth criminal court, which started its first hearing on 10 July 2012, was established under the aforementioned objectives. The supreme judicial council approved its establishment to try the political activists, in particular, those convicted in organizing 14 February movement. The lawyers and human rights activist consider the fourth court as restoration of "Emergency" court, despite the serious crisis done by the military tribunals during the National Security law. The military tribunals defamed the regime's reputation and condemned it in all the international forums. Furthermore, Bassiouni's report tackled the military tribunals in his report and recommended to reconsider a lot of trials run through them.
As the National Security tribunals (military tribunals) were exceptionally yet temporary established (the emergency period from March 2011 till June 2011); this new court was "exceptionally" held during the judiciary holiday. This court is specialized in dealing with cases that assault the national security, although the law of organizing the judiciary does not permit the courts to be held during judiciary holidays (summer vacation) unless to consider the urgent proceedings only, which does not apply to the political trials held by the court.
In order to hide its political character that it was formed for, the fourth criminal court dealt with a number of non-political criminal cases that do not exceed 5% of the total cases, according to the lawyers.
Ali Al Dhahrani, the son of the speaker of Bahrain's Council of Representatives, Khalifa bin Ahmed Al-Dhahrani (who is very close to the ruling family) was appointed for the presidency of the fourth criminal court. It is noteworthy to mention that Ali Al Dhahrani is one of the National Security tribunals' judges whose sentences were known for the revenge they carried. Witnesses affirmed that Ali Al Dhahrani used to smile at the detainees after issuing the sentences against them.
Besides Ali Al Dhahrani, there was another judge, Sheikh Hamad bin Al Khalifa. The latter is one of the judges known for being harsh in the security cases. He always resorts to the most severe punishments without taking the objective data into consideration, making use of the judicial discretion's authority given to the judge.
The third judge is Jassim Al Ajlan, a recently appointed judge who had not been in service for more than two years. Jassim was in the small court and then moved to the fourth criminal one in a record time. His move came by a decision from the supreme judicial council violating all the moving requirements and his failure to meet the requirements of the Supreme Court.
The role entrusted to this court was obviously noticed from the first case it dealt with and whose hearing started on 10 July 2013 with Ali Al Dhahrani on top. The case was known as "Karzakan Shotgun" where 3 Bahrainis were convicted for the intention of killing a policeman and injuring others, in addition to acquiring locally made ammunition (in a farm in Karzakan), using force and violence against official officers "security men" and participating in an assembly of more than 5 individuals in a public place with an aim of undermining the public security.
The pro-regime Al Watan Newspaper published news about the start of the hearing, hastening to pin the terrorism charge to the accused whose trials have recently begun. The heading of the news was "the start of trying 3 terrorists who used locally made shotgun to kill the police".
The court's hearings were contradictory where the stories of the witnesses were different from those of the Ministry of Interior. The main witness denied what the Ministry of Interior had said about the security men getting injured in Karzakan village as a result of shooting shotgun at them. Abdulla Zainuddin, the lawyer, stated at that time that: "the most important witness in the case, who is supposed to be injured, according to the Ministry of Interior story, said before the judge that he was not injured and none of the security men who were with him got injured. On the other hand, he assured that unknown protestors were holding Molotov bombs and stones". He, also, affirmed that shotgun shooting in Karzakan is just an imaginary story.
Zainuddin added that, "the statements of the rest of the witnesses who arrested the 3 innocents, and who were supposed, as mentioned in the statements, to have kept the claimed weapons, contradicted. Flops were clearly noticed in their testimonies for they did not even agree on the number of the claimed weapons that had been caught."
The witnesses were not even able to specify the place where they had arrested the 3 accused, neither in the case documents nor during their testimonies, announced Zainuddin.
"What affirms that the Karzakan Shotgun case is imaginary and malicious is the absence of any fingerprint on the claimed weapons, noting that the suspects were wearing no gloves. In addition, the shotgun shots which were kept were used by the Ministry of Interior", said Zainuddin.
He continued, "It is noteworthy to mention that the examining of the suspects' clothes proved the absence of gunpowder or any evidence that proves their acquiring of weapons". All that evidence besides others put the judge in font of one result; the innocence of the accused.
Zainab Abdulaziz, the lawyer, argued the nullity of the confessions referred to the accused because they were subjected to physical coercion in addition to the contradictions in the testimonies of the witnesses. She added that the accused were charged on the ground of the possibility of them being not seen by the security forces. Furthermore, the technical reports did not present anything that helped to link the incidents to the accused; thus the accused were innocent.
"The confessions of the convicts were extracted under duress and the arrest was illegal; the thing which negates all the charges. Suppose there were fingerprints on the weapons, we notice the voided nature of the case file from any evidence against the accused. Even if this does not make the court certain, it raises doubts", said Zainab. The accused denied the charges imposed against them in a previous hearing. They also showed that they were beaten by a group of anti-riot forces and that they did not beat the security forces who were of great number whereas they were only 3 persons.
Despite all these contradictions between the witnesses' testimonies and the public prosecution's story, and despite the convicts affirming that they were subjected to torture and that their convicts were extracted under duress, the court, with Al Dhahrani on top, sentenced the convicts to 10 years in prison on 15 September. Thus, the whole hearings and the pronouncement of the sentence took only 2 months, whereas such cases usually need 6-12 months. The court of appeal agreed on the sentence issued against the 3 suspects on 27 January.
In the next part, how did the hearings of "14 February cell" work? Why did the accused withdraw from the court's hearing? What consequences followed that?
- 2014-09-11(9) The Judge Ebrahim Al Zayed: the most merciless...the most lenient
- 2014-09-09 (8) A justice system that masters insulting lawyers
- 2014-07-21(7) Judge Ali Bin Khalifa Al Dhahrani: The Angry Blockhead
- 2014-07-14(6) The Fourth Criminal Court: on the track of the National Security Tribunals
- 2014-07-06The Bahraini Terrorism Act and Loose Laws (4)
التعليقات المنشورة لا تعبر بالضرورة عن رأي الموقع
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