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Hearing in Bahrain doctors’ trial put off

Posted by on June 14, 2011 0 Comment

A Bahraini military court yesterday postponed a hearing in the trial of 20 doctors, seized during crackdowns on anti-government demonstrations, after their lawyers complained they had been tortured in custody.

The doctors were among dozens of medical staff rounded up in the kingdom following protests that erupted in February among the country’s Shia majority.

The detainees, who face charges ranging from stealing medicine to stockpiling weapons to taking over a hospital, entered pleas of not guilty yesterday.

But a second part of the hearing, where the defence could have cross-examined prosecution witnesses, was deferred to June 20 over the lawyers’ challenges to the court’s jurisdiction and requests that their clients undergo independent medical examination.

“They were forced to confess. I am 100% sure that my clients are being tortured,” one lawyer, who asked not to be named, said after the session, which was observed by US and other foreign diplomats.

Relatives of some of the defendants told Reuters they were being prevented from bringing clothing to detainees, who they believed were being kept naked to humiliate them and produce confessions.

Bahraini officials deny allegations of systematic torture of detainees and say that any instances of abuse will be investigated and prosecuted. Gulf Times

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