Bahrain opens trial of hospital staff
Manama, June 14, 2011
Forty-four doctors, nurses and medical staff pleaded not guilty to being involved in the illegal occupation of Bahrain's main hospital by protesters, as the trial of hospital staff opened yesterday (June 13).
Four other suspects, including two still at large and two absent detainees, were not in court and will be tried in absentia.
Twenty of the men have been charged with possessing unlicensed weapons including two Kalashnikovs and ammunition, colonising the hospital and imposing their will, inciting others to overthrow the regime and destroying medical equipment.
The remaining 28 are accused of spreading false news and lying about the medical conditions of some patients and inciting hatred against the regime.
All 48 are on trial in the Court of National Safety, which refused for a second time a request to release them on bail.
Judges also refused a plea to free the 28 medical professionals facing less serious charges of disseminating false information.
They had initially been questioned when Bahrain was under a State of National Safety, but were summoned to the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID) last week.
Alleged ringleader of the 20 men accused of possessing unlicensed weapons Ali Isa Mansoor Al Ekri pleaded not guilty, but repeatedly shouted that he had been forced to confess by torture.
Former Bahraini Nursing Society president Rula Jassim Mohammed Al Saffar also repeated the same allegation along with Zahra Mahdi Al Samak, who was thrown out of court.
The Military Prosecution plans to use intelligence and reports gathered during questioning of the suspects as well as audio and video recordings to support its case.
Judges agreed to a request by defence lawyers for prosecution witnesses (senior Health Ministry officials) to be summoned to court.
They also urged the court to send their defendants for independent medical examinations.
Judges agreed to look into personal accusations that suspects were being humiliated and insulted by individual security personnel during their transfer in and out of jail.
It comes after a suspect claimed that he was punched last week during transfer when no one was watching.
Defence teams claimed the court was unconstitutional given that the State of National Safety did not mention the formation of special courts.
They also claimed that information gathered during questioning was invalid since it was done without the lawyers being present.
Judges adjourned the trial of the 20 men accused of possessing unlicensed weapons until Monday.
The case against the remaining 28 defendants was adjourned until June 27 for defence lawyers to review the evidence against their clients and prepare witnesses and defence papers.
It was earlier claimed Bahrain's security forces found machine-guns after evicting protesters from Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC) on March 16, according to acting Health Minister Dr Fatima Al Balooshi.
Authorities said two Bahrainis actually died because SMC medical staff made their injuries worse for camera crews, while ambulances were used as taxis for protesters.
Medical staff also allegedly administered drugs to induce symptoms in patients making it appear they had been attacked with nerve gas, denied medical services to certain people and illegally detained other health personnel and patients. – TradeArabia News Service