SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)Fifteen policemen in Bahrain have been charged with mistreating prisoners after an investigation into allegations made by medics after a crackdown on Shia-led protests in the Gulf state.
The charges, announced in a statement by Nawaf Abdullah Hamza, head of the public prosecution’s special investigation unit, came after staff at the Salmaniya Medical Complex, the hospital at the centre of anti-government protests last year, alleged they were harmed during detention.
At the height of the unrest, Bahrain detained dozens of medical staff, which provoked outcry from international human rights groups. Bahrain has since been trying to prove its adherence to human rights after coming under pressure for its methods used to stamp out the protests last year.
In June Bahrain’s civil court convicted nine medical staff charged over their role in last year’s pro-democracy revolt and acquitted nine others. The court cut the harshest sentence, of 15 years, to five in the case of Dr Ali al-Ekry, the most prominent defendant.
Some of the hospital staff took part in the demonstrations but they have denied other accusations, such as refusing to treat Sunni patients.
The government, which denies that the doctors were jailed for treating protesters, says the charges related to “politicising their profession, breaching medical ethics and, most serious of which, their involvement in the call for the overthrow of the monarchy.”
Salmaniya hospital, an unexpected hot spot of the unrest, was taken over by security forces as the authorities clamped down on the protest movement in mid-March last year.
As part of the investigation into the medics’ allegations, the prosecution said that some cases were sent to medical examiners and nine prosecution witnesses were summoned to give evidence. Procedures are under way for the final disposition of the case, the government said.
An independent report into the unrest found political activity among some doctors “difficult to reconcile with the full exercise of their medical responsibilities” but also stated that security forces attacked medical personnel amid broader criticism of the authorities’ handling of last year’s demonstrations.
Unrest continues across Shia-dominated areas as youths use more violent tactics, such as Molotov Cocktails, against riot police, who activists say are increasingly resorting to the use of shotguns to control crowds.
A policeman was seriously wounded on Tuesday following a petrol bomb attack, the state news agency reported. The policeman, on foot patrol in the Bani Jamra district, west of the capital, suffered medium burns and was hospitalized, the Bahrain news agency said.
Source : FT