A Bahraini court has adjourned until January the hearing in the trial of 20 medics held for their role during anti-government protests that rocked the kingdom earlier this year, a rights activist has said.
“The High Criminal Court adjourned the hearing to January 9,” Mohammed al-Maskati, head of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, said.
“The public prosecution presented to the court a group of guns and swords which it said were found in Salmaniya Medical Complex” where the doctors worked, saying they were “proof” against the detainees, said Maskati.
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The doctors, nurses, and paramedics were initially tried and convicted in the military-run National Safety Court on September 28 on a raft of charges, including incitement to overthrow the government.
They were given sentences ranging from five to 15 years each.
But in a dramatic reversal, the prosecutor told the court it was dropping confessions from the defendants, after medics had protested that the statements were extracted under duress. A new trial began on October 23.
Most of the medics worked at, or volunteered at, the Salmaniya Medical Complex in Manama that was stormed by security forces in mid-March after they drove protesters out of nearby Pearl Square.
Another civilian court on Monday also postponed a highly anticipated ruling on the appeal of two protesters sentenced to death by a security court during the protests.
An independent inquiry commission that has investigated a month of unrest in the Sunni-ruled kingdom had put the death toll at 35, including five security personnel and five detainees who were tortured to death while in custody.
Its report, released last week, said that 11 other people were killed later, and concluded that a total of 2,929 people were detained during the protest movement and at least 700 remain in prison.
King Hamad vowed reforms following the commission’s findings, but tensions have remained high.