Bahraini royal court acquits torturing princess

Bahraini royal court acquits torturing princess
Sat Dec 28, 2013 13:47:31

A Bahraini regime court has again acquitted two police officers, including a princess tied to the US-backed ruling family, who were linked to torturing doctors while under police detention during the nation’s popular uprising in 2011.

The Bahraini regime’s Information Affairs Authority (IAA) declared on Monday that Sheikha Noura bint Ibrahim al-Khalifa, who works within the police force, and another officer were acquitted by the Supreme Criminal Appeals Court, European news outlets reported on Saturday.

The IAA claimed the Appeals Court had upheld a previous verdict from July 1 in which she was previously acquitted.

Sheikha Noura was charged with using “torture, force and threats against Zahra al-Sammak and Kholoud al-Durazi to make them confess to a crime,” Nawaf Hamza, head of the Public Prosecution’s Special Investigations Unit, was quoted as telling reporters back in January, claiming that she had denied all charges.

The torture allegedly took place in 2011 when Western-backed Arab regime was reeling from political unrest.

The popular revolution in the Persian Gulf state blew up in February following near daily mass protest rallies, demanding non-discriminatory political and employment opportunities and democratic reforms in the despotic, Saudi-linked monarchy that has been ruling the oil-rich state for decades.

There are hundreds of princes and princesses among the ruling Khalifa family, many of whom hold senior public positions in the public sector and therefore may have come into contact with protesters.

An independent international human rights commission - headed up by Egyptian-American rights activists and jurist Cherif Bassiouni - was dispatched to Bahrain to investigate the unrest, as well as the abuses that occurred during the two months of martial law that followed.

The commission determined that regime’s security forces used excessive and widespread force, including torture, in order to extract confessions. They concluded that 35 people had been killed, although the Bahraini opposition figures puts the death toll higher - at around 80 people.

The Bahraini regime was heavily criticized for the detention and even torture of physicians and nurses who treated wounded protesters during and after the mass uprising.

According to Physicians for Human Rights, around 60 medics were put on trial and sentenced to up to 15 years in jail on charges including attempting to bring down the government. Most of them appealed, and the majority has had their sentences reduced or quashed.

“Bahrain’s international reputation is dominated by the image of it being a place which tortured its doctors after they treated injured protesters, and then failed to punish those responsible who ordered and carried out the torture,” said Brian Dooley of Human Rights First.

Earlier this year, two Bahraini police officers were sentenced to 10 years in prison for torturing to death protester al-Ashiri Saqer. However, the same officers were acquitted in the death of another detainee.

But the Bahrain Center for Human Rights said the legal proceedings amounted to little more than a show trial - and that none of the senior ranking officers who ordered the abuse will ever see justice.

“The Bahraini government continues to ignore calls to hold any of the high rank officers accountable for the deaths of al-Ashiri Saqer and the other three men who have died under torture in custody. Instead it has resorted to bring cases of torture against low rank policemen,” the center said in January 2012.

The despotic Bahraini regime remains a staunch US ally and home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.


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