A Bahraini political dissident has been extradited from Serbia following an Interpol Red Notice issued at Manama’s request, the interior ministry said, despite a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) prohibiting the extradition.
According to the London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), Ahmed Jaffar Mohammed Ali, 48, was extradited on Monday under the international arrest request dating back to 2015, despite an ECHR ruling he not be sent home pending further investigation.
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Ali had been convicted of “terrorism-related offences” – a charge often handed down to many who are perceived by the state as dissidents.
BIRD cited the Strasbourg-based ECHR as saying Ali should not be extradited before February 25 to give it time to examine “possible risks of torture and/or ill-treatment that the applicant would face if extradited to Bahrain”.
On Tuesday, Bahrain’s interior ministry said Ali was extradited “after coordination and communication with a friendly country”.
He has been handed three life sentences in absentia and an additional 10 years in prison for “terrorism-related offences between 2012 and 2015, including murder, and manufacturing and possessing explosives”, it said.
The ministry said Ali had previously been a “fugitive” in Iran.
Bahrain has prosecuted hundreds of protesters and banned main opposition groups after a failed uprising in 2011 that was led by members of the Shia Muslim majority in the country and crushed with the help of neighbour Saudi Arabia.
Most of the leading opposition figures and rights activists are imprisoned or have fled abroad.
The use of the death penalty in the small Gulf archipelago has also dramatically escalated since 2011, according to a report by BIRD. The death penalty has been imposed on a scale “never seen before”, especially targeting those connected to political opposition, it noted, as several had attended pro-democracy protests.
Bahraini authorities have denied targeting the opposition and say they are protecting national security, and deny any discrimination against the country’s Shia citizens.
Bahrain has claimed Shia heavyweight Iran trained and backed the demonstrators in an effort to topple the Manama government – an accusation Tehran denies.
“This scandalous extradition by the Serbian government that condemns someone to torture and life imprisonment is utterly devastating,” said Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, director of BIRD.
“Ahmed, the victim of sham trials, has already suffered torture at the hands of Bahraini officials and now fears violent interrogation and abuse,” he added.
According to BIRD, Ali’s lawyers at the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights intend to “litigate the case before the ECHR with the intention to argue that Serbia has breached the European Convention of Human Rights”.