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Bahrain medical workers to be retried

Oct. 6, 2011 at 9:52 AM   |   Comments

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MANAMA, Bahrain, Oct. 6 (UPI) -- The 20 medical workers sentenced by a Bahrain military court last month will be retried in the nation's highest civilian court, the attorney general said.

Gulf News reported Attorney General Ali Alboainain said the Department of Public Prosecutions had "studied" the Sept. 28 decision by the National Safety Court and "determined that the cases should be retried before the ordinary courts."

The prison sentences of five to 15 years for the doctors and paramedical staff at the Salmaniya Medical Complex in Manama had drawn international condemnation, with the United States calling the sentences deeply disturbing and the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights saying it had "severe concerns."

The medical workers were charged with taking over part of the hospital, participating in illegal protests, illegal weapons possession, calling for the overthrow and "inciting hatred" of the regime and refusing to treat some patients during protests.

Alboainain said the Public Prosecutions Department "seeks to establish the truth and to enforce the law while protecting the rights of the accused."

"By virtue of the retrials, the accused will have the benefit of full reevaluation of evidence and full opportunity to present their defenses," he said. "No doctors or other medical personnel may be punished by reason of the fulfillment of their humanitarian duties or their political views."

The medical workers will not be detained while awaiting the retrials, he said.

Alboainain said he will "continue to assess judgments of the National Safety Court in the interest of ensuring compliance with the rule of law," and when appropriate, move for retrials before the ordinary judiciary.

The medical workers are among hundreds of people arrested in the past six months in the Sunni-led Persian Gulf state that rules over a large Shiite majority.

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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