Bahrain court cuts protest medics' jail terms


Doctors and nurses gather outside Salmaniya medical complex before marching towards Pearl Square in the Bahraini capital Manama on February 20, 2011 to demand the resignation of Education Minister Majed bin Ali al-Nuaimi and Health Minister Faisal al-Hamr in anti-government protests in the tiny Gulf kingdom.


Joseph Eid

An appeals court in Bahrain has quashed the convictions of nine medics sentenced to lengthy jail terms and reduced the sentences imposed on nine others over their role in anti-government protests last year.

In a controversial decision that comes after months of international criticism of the medics’ trials, one doctor, Ali al-Ekri, was sentenced to five years in jail while another, Ibrahim al-Dimistani, faces three years imprisonment, The Guardian reports.

Seven others were handed down sentences of between one month and one year, while two other doctors, who are believed to have fled Bahrain, did not appeal against 15 year-prison sentences imposed last year.

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According to the Agence France Presse, a group of 20 doctors and nurses who were working at the Salmaniya medical complex in the capital city of Manama last February and March were detained by the security forces as part of a regime crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in the tiny Gulf kingdom.

In September an emergency military court handed down jail terms of between five and 15 years to the medics – all of whom are Shi’ite Muslims – on charges of possessing arms, occupying a hospital, and inciting the public to try to oust Bahrain’s Sunni monarchy, Reuters reports.

Most of them served time in prison, but were freed last year following claims that the authorities had tortured them whilst they were in custody. One of the medics told the BBC earlier this year that the Bahraini security forces had blindfolded and beaten her – as well as giving her electric shocks and threatening her with rape – in order to force her to sign a confession.

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