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Bahrain – 7 of 10 Ma’ameer detainees found guilty and sentenced to life

5 July 2010 (0830 GMT)
IHRC: For immediate release

BREAKING NEWS / PRESS RELEASE:  Bahrain – 7 of 10 Ma'ameer detainees
found guilty and sentenced to life;
IHRC Trial Observer witnesses excessive use of police force against
convicted men, their relatives and supporters inside and outside
court;
Tear gas and rubber bullets used to disperse demonstrators outside court room

Islamic Human Rights Commission Trial Observer, Abed Choudhury has
reported the judgment (0830 GMT) in the case of the Ma'ameer 10 in
Manama[1].  Seven of the ten men have been found guilty of murdering a
Pakistani truck driver, despite numerous investigations by human
rights groups, including IHRC, which found that evidence used against
the suspects was either non-existent or suspect in itself.  In some
cases the police interrogators used torture and threats to extract
confessions. All the men were activists against the on-going
discrimination against Bahrain's majority Shi'a community.

A life sentence in the context of Bahrain usually means 25 years.
The verdict and sentencing in this trial was only a few minutes long,
and no explanation behind the judgement was given, reports Choudhury.
He further states that as the judge left the room, the courtroom
erupted into emotional scenes:

"The convicted men began chanting Allahu Akbar (God is Great) while
relatives and supporters began shouting in protest at the sentences.
At this stage, police in the courtroom became very heavy handed.  I
saw some 10 – 15 police officers pushing one prisoner Jasim Hassan
Ahmed, against a wall and using extreme force against him.  Likewise
relatives and supporters including women, were surrounding by
disproportionate numbers of officers using force.
"Immediately outside the courtroom, police were trying to push back
supporters and relatives.  One of the convicted men's father Ali
Farhan shouted at a police officer.  Again some 10 – 15 police
officers followed him, and threw him on the floor and arrested him.
Many of the supporters rushed to him to help and more police officers
then rushed in.

"In the meantime riot police arrived and tried to disperse the
protestors.  As this was going on we heard a loud bang and were told
that tear gas had been fired."

By 0845 GMT, Choudhury reports that the demonstrators were mainly
dispersed, but he has received reports that tear gas and rubber
bullets had been used by riot police to move supporters.
Choudhury also came upon the sister of one of the convicted men
receiving help and treatment from other supporters.  One witness that
the woman, herself a lawyer, had confronted police officer about the
convictions, and was then set upon by female police officers and
beaten.
More information on the sentencing and aftermath to follow.  For more
information and to talk to the IHRC Observer directly, please call
(+44) 7877400112.  For comment from the IHRC office en London, please
call (+44) 20 8904 4222 or (+44) 7958 522196.

Notes to Editor:

[1] The Ma'ameer 10's case has been monitored by IHRC.  To read a
short report into one of the previous hearing please visit:
Report of the Trial Monitor in the Karzakan and Ma'ameer Cases Bahrain, 2009
http://ihrc.org.uk/attachments/9137_KarzakanMaameerFINAL.pdf
pages 9- 10.

[2] Jassim Hasan Ahmed's arrest was also a violent affair. He was
beaten in front of his young nephew during his arrest even though he
did not resist arrest. He was left hanging from the ceiling at the
police station for several days; they also used pepper spray on him.
Jasim's case is extremely worrying as his family claim that the public
prosecutor, Usama Al Asfoor, threatened to rape Jasim's wife and
personally torture Jasim unless he signed the confession.  [ENDS]
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The Islamic Human Rights Commission is an NGO in special consultative
status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

Islamic Human Rights Commission
PO Box 598
Wembley
HA9 7XH
United Kingdom

Telephone (+44) 20 8904 4222
Fax (+44) 20 8904 5183
Email: info@ihrc.org
Web: www.ihrc.org

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