Bahrain charges medics for aiding protesters

Doctors and nurses who treated injured anti-government protesters to stand trial in military court.

    Physicians for Human Rights said at least 32 health care professionals have been detained under martial law

    Several doctors and nurses who treated injured anti-government protesters during months of unrest in Bahrain have been charged with acts against the state and will be tried in a military court, the justice minister has said.

    At a press conference on Tuesday, Khaled bin Ali Al Khalifa, the justice minister, read the charges against the medical staff, which included "promoting efforts to bring down the government'' and "harming the public by spreading false news.''

    Al Khalifa also said that another 23 doctors and 24 nurses faced charges included participating in attempts to topple the Gulf island's Sunni monarchy and taking part in illegal rallies.

    The announcement is the latest in the Sunni rulers' pursuit of Shia opposition supporters after weeks of street marches demanding greater freedoms, equal rights and an elected government in Bahrain.

    Separately, two former parliament members of the country's main Shia party Al Wefaq were arrested on Monday, according to a senior party leader, Abdul-Jalil Khalil.

    'Medical professionals targeted'

    International rights groups say Bahrain is targeting medical professionals who treated injured demonstrators at the Salmaniya medical centre, which was later overrun by the military with doctors and patients saying soldiers and police had conducted interrogations and detentions inside the complex.

    Physicians for Human Rights said in a report last month that at least 32 health care professionals have been detained since Bahrain declared martial law.

    The report by the US-based group detailed attacks on physicians, medical staff and patients "with weapons, beatings and tear gas.''

    Hundreds of protesters, opposition leaders, human rights activists and lawyers have been detained since emergency rule was imposed by Bahrain's Sunni rulers on March 15.

    At least 30 people have died since the protests began in mid February. Among the dead are also four opposition supporters who died in custody, including a blogger.

    On Thursday, four anti-government protesters were convicted of killing two policemen during the protests and sentenced to death by a military court.

    Three other demonstrators got life sentences.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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