First session of Court of Appeal in the case of the 21 political leaders and activists held under tight security procedures

The Judge postpones the hearing until the 22 of May, and prisoners of conscience confirm their innocence and demand to allow them to speak

20 May 2012 Bahrain Center for Human Rights documents the proceedings of the Bahraini court to which hundreds of defendants are taken since the start of the uprising on 14 February 2011 and thereafter, where all capabilities of the security authorities in Bahrain; including the civil judiciary and public prosecution are committed to act as instruments of political persecution and torture to the opponents and for the fabrication of the cases and issuing harsh judgments that are based on confessions extracted under duress and torture, beside referring to witnesses who are security officers and are originally accused of responsibility for the torture of the detainees.


The primary National Safety Court (military) issue its harsh ruling and the court of Appeals (military) proves the verdict against opposition leaders and activists:

One of the most important cases in which the court of the National Safety (military) issued cruel and unjust judgment on 22 June 2011 is the case of the 21 against the leaders of the opposition as well as prominent human rights activists such as Abdul Hadi al-Khawaja, where the court sentenced 8 of the defendants to life imprisonment; 10 were sentenced to 15 years prison; and two were sentenced 5 years prison; one defendant was sentenced to 2 years. Seven of those defendants were sentenced in absentia. [1]

The trial involved many violations, firstly introducing civilians to military courts, and not lastly ignoring the investigation in the torture of the defendants and not to allow them to meet their lawyers and refusing to hear the the witnesses, while approving the testimonies of the officers of the National Security Service who are accused of torture.

On 28 September 2011 the judgment was approved by the Court of Appeals of the national safety, which is also military, and at the same conditions of the first trial.

Despite the report of the fact-finding committee headed by Mr. Sherif Bassiouni which confirm that the defendants were subjected to severe and cruel torture and that their court was not just, and didn’t have the minimum conditions of litigation as determined by the International Standards, but the Bahraini authorities did not release them and kept them in prison and procrastinated the presentation of their case to court of civil discrimination.

Civil Court of Cassation hold its first session in the case:

On 23 April 2012, the first hearing in the case was held in the Supreme Civil Court of Cassation after more than 6 months of confirming the judgment of the Court of Appeal, which approves that the drives of keeping the defendants imprisoned were merely political. The Court of Cassation postponed the decision on appeal made by the prisoners to 30 April 2012, and during the hearing, security forces besieged the area surrounding the court to prevent any kind of solidarity with the defendants or any gathering of their families. Besides, they also refused to allow the political associations to organize any rally in solidarity with them. Moreover, this session has taken place in the absence of the defendants who were not brought to the court by the security authorities. [2]

Court of Cassation denies the judgment and returns the case to the Supreme Court of Appeal:

On 30 April 2012, the Supreme Civil Court of Cassation held its hearing which resulted in the denial of the issued judgment and the acceptance of the appeals of the defendants. It also amended the sentencing of the accused Yousif AL-Samikh to become 6 months instead of two years, after which he is to be released, noting that AL-Samikh spent more than a year in prison. The court also ruled to re-transfer the case to the Supreme Court of Appeal with the defendants to remain in prison, which adds to the abuses of those defendants; especially that they are prisoners of conscience, besides the acceptance of a judicial appeal, the claim of the public prosecution to drop the charges related to the freedom of expression, and the report of Bassiouni (fact finding committee) who spoke about their torture and the lack of fairness of their trial and conviction, yet, the court kept them in prison. [3]

The first session of the Supreme Civil Court of Appeal:

The police prevents number of activists and the families of the political leaders from entering courtroom

On 8 May 2012, the Supreme Court of Appeal held the first hearing in the case of the 21, and Bahrain Center documented the stringent security measures in which the trial took place; where the area surrounding the court was put under tight security, and the defendants’ families were prevented from entering the court and only one person from each family was allowed to enter the courtroom. The authorities have also banned the holding of any rally to express solidarity with the prisoners, beside the prevention of many of the activists from entering the courtroom, despite the claim that it was an open court. In this case, the monitoring official at Bahrain Center for Human Rights; Sayed Yousif AL-Mahafdah has been repeatedly denied from entry without any reason, as well as preventing the member of Bahrain Human Rights Society, Mohammed AL-Samikh, from entering the session.

The hearing was attended by 11 defendants in the case; who are: the activist Hassan Mushaima, the activist Abdul Wahab Hussein, the activist Ibrahim Sharif, Sheikh Abdul Jalil AL-Meqdad, Sheikh Mohammed Habib AL-Meqdad, Sheikh Saeed Al-Nouri, Sheikh Abdul Hadi Al-mukhudar, the activist Abdul Jalil AL-Singace, the activist Salah AL-Khawaja, the activist Mohamed Hassan Jawad, the activist Muhammad Ali Radhi; while the human rights activist Abdul Hadi Al-Khawaja and Shaikh Mirza Mahroos were absent as they were in the hospital. Besides, the court has already released AL-Samikh, and trialed 7 of the defendants in absentia.

During the hearing, all the prisoners asked to be allowed to talk and confirmed that they are innocent and prisoners of conscience, and that they should be released immediately and unconditionally. They also expressed their upset from their confinement behind a glassy wall in the court where they cannot talk to their lawyer. The lawyers asked to allow them to talk to their clients in person and to receive a copy of the last judgment of the Court of Cassation in this case.

Thereafter, the judge decided to postpone the hearing to 22 May 2012, and in which to bring the human rights activist Abdul Hadi Al-Khawaja and Shaikh Mirza AL-Mahros. The former is in hospital because of his hunger strike for more than 90 days, while the later is suffering from other diseases; as said by his family it was a result of brutal torture that caused him internal bleeding. [4]



Related Articles:

Open Letter to His Excellency King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain, H.E. Shaikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, Minister of Interior, and H.E. Shaikh Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa, Minister of Justice as well as NGO´s in Bahrain.By Christof Lehmann.

The Case of The Missing Interview with Nabeel Rajab, Head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. Christof Lehmann

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