Middle East

Bahrain medics to begin jail terms over protests

Thousands of Bahrainis shout anti-government slogans during the politically charged funeral procession in Sadad, Bahrain, on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012, for Ali Hussein Niema, 17, who allegedly was shot dead by riot police late Friday. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

DUBAI: Six Bahraini medics were jailed on Tuesday, a day after their conviction in connection with last year's anti-regime protests were upheld by the kingdom's highest court, lawyers said.

The medics, who were on bail, were among 20 doctors and nurses who worked at the Salmaniya Medical Complex in Manama during the predominantly Shiite uprising against the kingdom's ruling Sunni dynasty in February 2011.

They include consultant orthopaedic surgeon Ali Alekri, who was sentenced to five years, and senior nurse, Ibrahim Damastani, who received three years.

Both men were convicted of possessing a non-firearm weapon and of illegal assembly.

The remaining four medics were found guilty of illegal assembly and inciting hatred, and were handed sentences ranging from two months to one year.

Three other medics' convictions were also upheld by the high court Monday, but so far there has been no news of their being taken into custody.

All 20 were first charged and convicted by a quasi-military court formed in the aftermath of the government's brutal crackdown on the protests in March 2011.

Many initially received harsh sentences of up to 15 years.

Nine of them were acquitted by a lower appeals court in June.

Many of the 20 medics -- 15 of whom are doctors -- alleged they were tortured in prison.

Earlier this month, the public prosecutor's office charged seven policemen with torture and maltreatment of the medics, all of whom are Shiite.

The authorities say they are implementing the recommendations of an independent commission of inquiry ordered by the king that confirmed allegations of excessive use of force by security forces during the protests.

International rights groups continue to accuse the Gulf kingdom of failing to implement sufficient reforms.





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