(7) Judge Ali Bin Khalifa Al Dhahrani: The Angry Blockhead
2014-07-21 - 3:43 م
Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): The court is the judge; when the authority establishes a court whose aim is to root up the activists and protestors and harshen the penalties under Terrorism name; it needs a judge who has the will to abandon his legal duty and ethical conscience and perfectly play the required role. In brief, it needs a mercenary who acts as a judge.
The Judge's Characteristics:
Here are some judge's characteristics as mentioned in the legal postulates:
1. Qualified, expert, educated and familiar with the legal principles they rule.
2. Good-tempered and aware of all the case circumstances.
3. Patient, especially when they listen to the defendants' defence.
4. Of strong personality; which makes them do not fear the authority or people in power.
5. Self-honoured who is indifferent to life desires and does not accept bribery.
6. Judicial temperament, they deeply consider the cases and do not issue verdicts without evidence and knowledge. He does not only rely on the statements to issue his decision.
7. If things got confused and difficult, they do not lose the ability to consider them. They only show the truth based on evidence and proof.
8. Jovial with the opponents, i.e. they do not get bored of listening to them - during the court's session-.
9. Cautious in order not be deceived by the means of fraud and trickery. They are indifferent to flattery and praise.
10. Strict in issuing their fair verdicts if all facts were uncovered. They are unbiased in their judgment.
Al Dhahrani's Characteristics:
Ali Al Dhahrani, the judge, is the son of the spokesman of the council of representatives of Bahrain who is close to the ruling family and the PM. Being a graduate from Cairo University from the faculty of law, Ali Al Dhahrani was appointed in 2002 as an attorney in the public prosecution. In 2006, he was moved to the third small criminal court where he served until 2009. He was then appointed as a right-winged judge in the second criminal court until 2013. However, in 2011, he participated in the locally and internationally notorious National Security tribunals. Al Dhahrani was the one to rule the "21 case", known as the figures' case. The lawyers who attended the hearing and the families of the figures affirmed that Al Dhahrani was smiling while issuing severe verdicts against the accused. The fourth criminal court, established in July 2013, needed judges who were willing to issue the severest penalties against the activists and protestors, thus Ali Al Dhahrani was chosen to be its president.
We will now compare the judge's characteristics as stipulated in all constitutions and human right legislations worldwide to Ali Al Dhahrani's, the president of the fourth criminal court:
The judge's characteristic: familiar with the legal principles he rules upon.
Dhahrani's characteristic: Al Dhahrani lacks the legal experience and he is not aware of the code of criminal procedure and the procedural law. For instance, the law allows trainee lawyers to attend the court on behalf of a working lawyer; however, Al Dhahrani prevents trainees to do so and orders them to go outside the court. This is considered an unawareness of law or a clear violation. On the other hand, the lawyers classify the verdicts issued by Al Dhahrani as legally tenuous and void of reason and evidence, contrary to those of Ebrahim Al Zayed's, whom we will specify a special part for.
The judge's characteristic: Jovial with the opponents, i.e. does not get bored of listening to them - during the court session-.
Dhahrani's characteristic: He treats prosecutes as opponents rather than accused. He intentionally mocks them and addresses them with numbers instead of their names. When the accused recount their torture stories, he turns his face away from them and obliges them to stop speaking by calling the next accused to speak. In addition, he writes in the court notes brief wording that does not express the exact facts said by the accused, whereas the code of criminal procedure orders the details to be written according to the accused's words (see the previous part).
When the lawyer pleads for his client who is accused in a security or political case, Al Dhahrani does not look at the lawyer but moves his sight all around the court room and looks at the ceiling, as lawyers were quoted. The lawyers, however, affirm that the judge seems as "if trying the lawyer before the accused and considers both; the lawyer and accused, in one rank". They add that, "he looks at the accused as terrorists and at the lawyers as agents for betraying terrorists."
In one of the hearing sessions of the accused in burning a car tire near the Formula 1circuit case, one of the prosecution witnesses, and before the alibi witnesses' session, was calling the accused who have not yet been convicted as "traitors". The lawyers objected for the use of the word "traitor", however, the judge Al Dhahrani replied that "there is nothing wrong with his words". Furthermore, when the lawyer left the court as a sign of protest, Al Dhahrani wrote in the court notes that the accused, with the help and incitement of the lawyers, made acts of vandalism and then he adjourned the session. At the same time, he held another session and listened to the prosecution witnesses without the accused being present; the thing which is considered illegal.
The judge also ordered the accused Sajjad Al Alawi outside the court and did not allow him to attend his trying hearing sessions. In fact, the judge has no legal right to prevent the accused from attending his trying sessions.
The judge's characteristic: good-tempered and aware of all the case's circumstances which he rules fairly.
Dhahrani's characteristic: Al Dhahrani is ill tempered and does not carefully consider the conflict of interest between the public prosecution and the witnesses it brings. He also ignores accused complaints of torture and extracting of confessions under duress. In addition, he does not allow the accused to be checked by the forensic physician unless after a long time after their torturing to give time to the marks to disappear. He depends on audible evidences (witnesses from the Ministry of Interior), despite the existence of physical evidences that condemn the accused other than the former statements and the confessions extracted under duress.
Ten detained defendants were tired under the internationally criticized terrorism act in the case known as "Al-Emam Army cell", along with another 12 defendants who were wanted. The accused were charged of "establishing, leading, joining, supporting and funding a terrorist group with the intention of arming and training its members to carry out acts of terrorism targeting public properties and police." They were also charged of "conspiring with Iran to plot terrorist attacks in Bahrain - establishing ties with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and providing them with military and security information about vital facilities in Bahrain", in addition to "receiving training to carry out acts of terrorism".
This was the charge, however what was the evidence the public prosecution relied on and the court, with the Judge Ali Al Dhahrani as president, approved later to issue the sentence? The public prosecution has not actually provided any physical evidence that links these defendants with any kind of terrorist activities. In addition, all the witnesses are employees in the Ministry of Interior which represent the prosecutor's side. Among what the public prosecution called evidence was: "encrypted flash memories, mobile devices, laptops, cameras, CDs, red horn, first aid kit, some nails and fire extinguisher" in addition to documents about the 14 February revolution including "Lulu Revolution charter" which has been distributed online since February 2012. The evidence mainly relied on the accused confessions which claimed to have been tortured.
For two consecutive sessions (the second time on 15 August) the court head, Judge Ali Al Dhahrani refused to give the defendants any chance to speak in front of the court regarding the violations to their rights during arrest, detention and interrogation. One of the defendants in the case, Sayed Faisal Al Alawi, raised his voice to tell the court: "I have the right to speak, as I suffer from three weeks in solitary confinement while handcuffed, I'm deprived from visits and phone calls to my family, there are no human rights in Bahrain." Another defendant, Ali Sanqoor, also said to the court: "We have the right to speak; this is the second time we are brought here and not allowed to speak." However, the court didn't record any of the defendant's complaints, but the judge asked for the names of those who spoke to be recorded. In addition, the court ignored the lawyers' request to refer the defendants to an impartial medical committee for examination of any injuries they might have suffered while in detention.
Six out of the nine lawyers withdrew from the case during the third session on 20 August to express objection to the disregard to their request regarding referring the case to another independent court, for the accused were being tried for disabling the provisions of the constitution and dissolving the parliament - which is headed by the judge's father - which can be considered as a conflict of interest. They are also tried for seeking to overthrow the regime which is represented by the ruling Al Khalifa family - which is the family of right-winged Judge Hamad Al Khalifa - which can be also be identified as a conflict of interest.
The six lawyers submitted a memo to the court on which they expressed that according to the law, the judiciary should suspend the case until a decision was made by the supreme judicial council concerning the lawyers' request.
Al Dhahrani did not mind any of the aforementioned steps; however he proceeded with hearing the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses. The first witness, Mohamed Khalid Al Saeedi, said that his "confidential sources" (!) had led him to conclude (!) that the defendants were involved in founding this "terrorist cell". He added that the defendants had been communicating through Viber, Skype and email and they had Iranian and Omani telecom chips.
The witness was not able to answer all the questions from the lawyers regarding the details of the case, and his answers were either "Check it in the investigation records", "I forgot" or "the sources are confidential". His answer to one of the lawyer's questions was in conflict with his statement on the investigation records. Did this conflict in the prosecution witness's statement halt the judge Al Dhahrani? The answer was: No.
The surprise was when one of the defendants told the court that the witness, Officer Mohamed Khalid Al Saeedi, is the same person who tortured him during interrogation at the Criminal Investigation Department. He stated that he was tortured both physically and mentally, and that the confessions were not genuine. Did this change anything with regards to the judge Al Dhahrani? No.
At the end of the session, detainee Faisal Alawi shouted that he was tortured physically and psychological at the Criminal Investigation Department and that he was still placed in solitary confinement in Asri detention centre. He added that he was being subjected to ill-treatment in his solitary confinement, the guards were cursing the prisoners and the Shiite sect and that one of the officers there, Major Ahmed Al Khalidi, described Shiite as terrorists. No response.
The session was adjourned to 29 August 2013.
On 3 November 2013, Al Dhahrani sentenced 4 defendants to life imprisonment, 6 to 15 years in prison and declared the innocence of 14, after being defamed and their photos being screened on television and newspapers.
The judge's characteristic: Patient, especially when he listens to the defendants' defence.
Dhahrani's characteristic: He is described as the angry blockhead; he quickly gets furious and irritable when it comes to the political prisoners or their lawyers. A blockhead quickly gets mad from others based on personal or hasty interpretations and tends to analyze matters in an irritable and irrational way. The blockhead has prejudges and partialities by which he explains the stances of others; these partialities control the judgments he issues against people. He only listens to one party before issuing his judgment; he has no judicial temper in rumination, consideration and carefulness. The angry blockhead often lacks self-confidence and people do not tend to befriend him for he is ill-mannered and has no communication skills; this character is often linked to unconfident persons.
Being a person with the above characteristics is something acceptable; however, the problem lies if the one with those characteristics was a judge or a head of a court. This thing is not acceptable except in the courts that betray justice. Al Dhahrani is known for his quick temper with the political prisoners and their lawyers. He quickly adjourns the session and orders the accused and their lawyers outside the court whenever he feels involved and does not know how to react. This is considered a trademark for Al Dhahrani's sessions. He is known to walk in the court moving his face around for he is sure that others are talking about him and the lawyers do not acknowledge him. Any smile between two persons is enough to threaten them to be thrown out, for he thinks they smile at him.
In the 14 February cell's second session, Al Dhahrani allowed the accused to talk about what they suffered after he had prevented them in the first session; however, he wrote their words without mentioning any details. When Rihana Al Moosawi talked about being tortured and stripped of twice on the male officers' hands, he penned in the court's note the word "threatening" instead on "torturing and stripping". Thus, the lawyers protested to write the details down using the accused expressions. The judge refused, got agitated by anger and adjourned the session. Since then, he started refusing to listen to the accused during the hearings. Whenever an accused persists to talk, the judge gets angry, adjourns the session or kicks the accused out of the court. The same thing was applied to Al Emam Army Cell case where he refused to listen to the accused statements of torture.
On 18 February 2014, Al Dhahrani withdrew Mohsen Al Alawi, the lawyer, from the court after the former flamed up with rage with Al Alawi and argued together in the courtroom. The case was about forming a terrorist cell to attack the US military base. Sajjad Al Alawi was among the accused in this case whom Mohsen Al Alawi was pleading for. The judge wanted to postpone the session until the closing argument; Al Alawi protested against the judge's decision and filed a complaint against the head of the public prosecution and the investigating officer for torturing his client, Sajjad Al Alawi, and asked the judge to know the complaint progress first. Al Dhahrani ignored Al Alawi's demand and continued doing his arrangements. Al Alawi refused the latter's actions and while Al Alawi was demonstrating his reasons, Al Dhahrani ignored him for the second time and moved to talk to another lawyer. Therefore, Al Alawi objected to the judge's action and was ordered out of the courtroom. The judge and the lawyer argued and the latter asked the former to record his leaving for not noting his demands; however, the judge did not respond.
The matter developed in the courtroom when some lawyers withdrew from the session too. Al Dhahrani said, "Who wants to leave may do so", Al Alawi answered "record our leaving and our demands' refusal". During that, the prisoner Sajjad said to the judge: "you are a spoke in the wheel of reform sought by Al Kowwari (the supreme judicial council head)." The judge ordered the accused out of the court, then another accused shouted and voices were raised. As a result, the judge adjourned the session.
On 24 April 2014, the judge sent the accused out the court because they did not stand up for him. Mohsen Al Alawi tweeted: "problems are increasing in the fourth criminal court due to the judges' treatment, today the youth rejected to stand up for the court for they felt justice was lost. Consequently, the judge sent them all out".
The judge's characteristic: Of strong personality which makes him do not fear the authority and people in power. Self-honoured who is indifferent to life desires and does not accept bribery.
Dhahrani's characteristic: He speaks highly of authority and people in power who placed him in the court and rewarded him by promoting him to judicial posts. After promoting a number of judges and heads of public prosecution, with Al Dhahrani among them, for higher judicial positions in July 2010 by a royal order, and while the penalties were being harshened against the political detainees, the (promoters) spoke highly of the royal order. The promoters considered the king's decision a reward for the end of the judicial year, they also expressed their thanks to the trust the King confided in them. They, moreover, thanked the PM, the crown prince and the deputy chairman of the supreme judicial council, Shaikh Khalifa Bin Rashid Al Khalifa.
In this occasion, Ali Al Dhahrani said that: "the decision strengthens the Bahraini judiciary, stressing that the promotions provide an environment for trust that there is a continuous appreciation and a motive for the judges to exert more effort to serve the Bahraini justice". "The King's appreciation for the judges comes as an episode in the reforming project series which established its rules and lasts for the Bahraini bright future in his reign".
The judge's characteristic: Strict in issuing his fair verdicts if all facts were uncovered. He is unbiased in his judging.
Dhahrani's characteristic: He provides protection for the torturers and the public prosecution's agents through refusing any accused or lawyer statement regarding torturing. When any accused persists on talking, the judge dismisses him or rejects to note his statements. The judge also does not permit any critical question raised to the witnesses by the defense team or any question that might condemn any of the Ministry of Interior employees.
One of the detainees pointed at an "attorney general" who was attending the session, saying that: "he forced me to sign on false confessions and tortured me". Al Dhahrani soon expelled the detainee from the court. Mohsen Al Alawi has already asked the judge to have the accused checked on for torturing marks on their bodies; however, the judge waited for more than two months until most of torture marks disappeared. Sajjad Al Alawi was another victim who was sentenced on the grounds of false confessions which he signed under duress and torture. Sajjad's lawyer has already asked the "judge" to check on the torture marks but the latter refused.
The defense team presented the case of 14 February Youth Coalition on 12 July 2013 and unveiled in a press conference that the fourth criminal court "did not pen in the court's note anything that condemns or points fingers at the public prosecution headed by the Judge Ali Al Dhahrani, the son of the spokesman of the council of representatives of Bahrain.". The defence team stressed that "the judge refused to write the accused statements about the public prosecution's members, in particular Ahmed Bucheery, torturing and threating the accused." Noting that "all of the accused stated that the latter was the one to threaten, torture them and curse their rituals including Imam Ali."
The court affirmed that "it refused to have the detainees' families present at the court, where it wanted to dismiss the convicts' families and the court observers as if it was a secret court like the National Security tribunals. The court also expelled the human rights activists since the beginning of its sessions."
The judge's characteristic: Judicial temperament, he deeply considers the cases and does not rule without evidence and knowledge. He does not only rely on statements to issue his decision.
Dhahrani's characteristic: most of the statements adopted by Al Dhahrani are of confidential sources which he is confident of!! All the sources are audible and not physical, i.e. that witnesses do not see by their own eyes that the accused had done what they were charged of, but hear from someone form confidential sources. The only (complicated) cases are those of protesting.
98% of cases headed by Al Dhahrani were met with condemnations. Besides, his court is known as the one to issue death penalties and life imprisonment, for rarely does a week pass without issuing collective life imprisonments.
Al Dhahrani refuses to meet the demands of the lawyers attributed to prove the innocence of their clients, but he only listens to the normal demands. In addition, Al Dhahrani's court refused to get the videos from the security cameras in "Al Dair Bombing" despite the Ministry of Interior has tapped videos; which was considered strong evidence to prove the innocence of the accused. The lawyers asked for the videos in three sessions, however, the judge declined to talk to any concerned party. "Any demand that has evidence to prove the innocence of the accused is rejected", stress the lawyers.
The lawyer,Abdullah Zainuddin, said: "the court refused the defence team demand regarding getting the security cameras owned by the Ministry of Interior that affirm the innocence of the accused from the charges imposed against them." Zainuddin considered this rejection "a clear legal violation for the code of criminal procedure which reflects the judge's intent in issuing the conviction." "To your information, the Ministry of Interior posted video about the bombing on the media and social media networks," he added.
Zainuddin also affirmed that "the court's refusal to get the videos is considered a violation of the defence right and the free proof principle relied on in the criminal matters," adding that unveiling the crimes is one of the security cameras aims, as the officials claim.
In a previous session, the court listened to the witnesses, who were the investigators and two Asian witnesses. One of the witnesses was the victim who attended the court and appeared to have covered his left hand before entering the court. After entering the court to give his statements, he removed the bandage to show that he only had two fingers in his hand.
The time Al Dhahrani gives to the judge to write the defence does not exceed a week, for the former is in a hurry to issue a verdict against the accused whose sessions, in general, do not last more than 2 months. Despite that the defence plead was of about 50 pages and the lawyer has to consider the whole file of the accused, the court only gave a week to complete the proceedings.
These are Al Dhahrani's characteristics as he reveals and as revealed in the courtroom. Al Dhahrani does not care about the judge image he has to feature; he does not even assume or pretend it. He is biased and does not even fake respect towards the accused of different political views, for he, most probably, does not enjoy personal qualifications that help him stay patient. He believes he is not even obliged to try to stay patient.
Thus, the lawyers resorted on 20 February 2014 to write a detailed explanatory letter to the counselor Salem Al Kowwari regarding the judges' mistreatment towards the lawyers. In the next part, what was the content of this letter? What was Al Kowwari's reply? What does Al Kowwari's response reveal regarding the judges in Bahrain?
- 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
- 2014-07-14(6) The Fourth Criminal Court: on the track of the National Security Tribunals
- 2014-07-10(5) The Fourth Criminal Court: The Legislator
- 2014-07-06The Bahraini Terrorism Act and Loose Laws (4)
التعليقات المنشورة لا تعبر بالضرورة عن رأي الموقع
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