Judge dismisses lawyers of detainees, appoints new ones despite their rejection
An independent observer at today’s “trial” of 25 Bahrainis accused by the Al Khalifa ruling family of sedition and plots to overthrow their regime said: “I have never seen in my life a worse example of contempt of justice as I saw in today’s court session”. The fifth court appearance had promised to be a dramatic one after the defence team decided at the last session on 9th December not to present any defence unless the Al-Khalifa appointed judge agreed to two demands: an independent investigation into allegations of torture and re-investigation of the detainees by the court in the presence of their lawyers. The judge refused those demands, so the lawyers withdrew from the session. The ruling family appointed a new team of lawyers, but at today’s court hearing the detainees refused to accept them and insisted on the original team. It is now known that in the two weeks separating the two court sessions, enormous pressure was exercised on the detainees to accept the new team, including the use of torture. Sheikh Mohammad Habib Al Miqdad, a Swedish national, was so badly tortured that he looked pale and unable to speak or stand at today’s court appearance. Yet the judge brushed aside all complaints of torture and insisted on adopting the confessions made under duress as basis for indictment. The judge adjourned the trial for two more weeks until 6th January 2011 and insisted that the new team start their defence despite the rejection by detainees. It is now clear that the judge has a ready-made case and verdict that he would announce regardless of the detainees or their lawyers said.
What is more painful is the total silence by the US, UK and French embassies whose representatives have attended all court hearings and witnessed the wheeling and dealing of the judge. International observers who attended those sessions expressed outrage at how these show trials are lacking the basic standards of fairness and justice. What is also disturbing is the silence of the UK Foreign Office at the officially-sanctioned torture and injustice being meted against a UK citizen. The FCO has repeatedly justified its lack of action to defend Mr Al Hasabi on the grounds that he holds dual nationality. It has ignored calls from various corners to help this British national although he told them, through his family, that he had been severely tortured and continues to be ill-treated. The FCO appears to ignore the fact that violations of human rights invalidates borders and diplomacy as impediments to offer help to victims of torture anywhere in the world. Mr Al Hasabi is totally innocent and is being persecuted for his peaceful and legal activities he had undertaken in UK not in Bahrain.
Meanwhile the public outrage amongst Bahrainis has continued. Last night Bahraini youth protested in their usual peaceful ways in several towns; Al Dair, Al Ma’amir, Karbabad and Karzakkan. In Karbabad, tyres were burnt in the street and slogans were painted on walls including that says: “Our protests will continue until our demands are met”. In Al Dair town tyres were also burnt near Hajji Ahmad grocery as police vehicles took position at the main entrance to the town. They fired several shots and hurried to put down the flames. In sitra, religious ceremonies were held on Sunday 19th December and were overshadowed by the presence of slogans and images of political detainees and their ill-treatment. Slogans were raised calling for an end to the black era imposed by the Al Khalifa clique on Bahrain.
As the security situation worsens, political detainees in various prisons are engaging in strikes to end their ill-treatment and torture. Yesterday, the detainees in Al Khamis notorious prison started a hunger strike in protest at their ill-treatment and illegal detention. The detainees at Al Nu’aim detention centre expressed their solidarity with their colleagues at Al Khamis and went on hunger strike. To make a stronger point, the families of the detainees protested at the main gate of the Dry Dock prison after they had been prevented from visiting their loved ones for t here consecutive weeks. The ban was enforced as punishment to the detainees who refused to be represented in court by Al-Khalifa appointed lawyers.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
23 December 2010