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BAHRAIN: Government hits wall in terrorism case against dissidents

Protest bahrainA group of political dissidents charged with plotting against the government of Bahrain are stonewalling the prosecution by refusing to cooperate with state-appointed lawyers after their own legal team withdrew in protest over the authorities' refusal to investigate torture claims.

On Thursday, the trial for 25 dissidents accused of terrorism was adjourned until Jan. 6 after the state-appointed lawyers told the court they could not do their job without their clients' cooperation, according to organizations following the case. Local media has been barred from covering the trial.

The trial has become the most visible symbol of the Sunni monarchy's crackdown against the largely Shiite opposition, which has sparked riots and led to the arrest of hundreds of people since it was launched in the months leading up to the October parliamentary elections.

Bahrain, a close ally of the United States and host to the Navy's Fifth Fleet, has come under heavy criticism from local and international human rights organizations, which have accused authorities of torturing the defendants on the pretext of trumped-up charges.

The charges -- some of which carry life sentences -- range from spreading misinformation to financing terrorism and "inciting hatred" of the ruling royal family.

Among the defendants is the journalist and blogger Ali Abdulemam, founder of the popular website Bahrain Online, and opposition activist Abdul Jalil Singace.

Singace, leader of the opposition Shiite political society Haq, had previously testified that he was severely beaten for weeks on end and that interrogators threatened to rape his wife, daughters and sister.

"I was beaten on my ears, my crutches were taken away and I was forced to stand for long periods of time in a basement under the National Security Apparatus building," he said, according to a transcript provided by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. "They opened the door so I could hear the others being tortured, and this went on every night after midnight and until sunrise."

One of the defendants is a board member of the human rights group.

Many of the defendants presented testimony that they had been tortured and mistreated in detention, but so far the court has not moved to authorize an independent investigation of the claims nor barred the use of confessions allegedly obtained under torture.

Earlier this month, the defense's legal team quit in protest over the government's handling of the case.

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, another advocacy group, has sent monitors to each trial session and continues to publish reports questioning the fairness of the proceedings.

-- Meris Lutz in Beirut

Photo: A protester holds a sign objecting to the imprisonment and alleged torture of prominent Shiite political activist Abdul Jalil Singace outside the courthouse in Manama, Bahrain. Credit: Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (4)

Citizen,

You comment about shiite is of the essence of hate. Do you understand what it is to hate? Its to conspire, to believe that a person is of lower form than you. Im from Kuwait, a country who has a sunni ruling family and a majority of sunni but i'm shiite but i would NEVER oppose my government because there sunni, just like i wouldn't favor a government for the sole reason that it's shiite. I was born and raised here and you don't get that. You don't get that religion aside, were all brothers and sisters, share the same religion, favor the same book, believe in the same God.

Talking about the article above and your comment about shiite and there profound love for Iran is bullshit. We may vist Iran for RELIGIOUS purposes but that doesn't mean we agree with there politics. It's like saying if you go to hajj in Saudia Arabia, you favor wahhabism.

I'm so sick of the whole shiite terrorist bullshit. If i were you i'd go read up on history, let it do the talking, the explaining. Let me point you in a direction. go read The Shia Revival by Vali Nasr. History will shock you.

You're just hustling 'Citizen', some of our "friends" want our free handout and others want our big brother muscle to silence their adversaries, either way nothing is for free and our arm forces are there to protect our corporations interest and not our national interest!

joe, though i have no arguement against the accusations and the illegal and immoral acts that are being committed. what you don't know is that some extremist shiites in the country are loyal to iran. which has been trying to spread its influence in the country, much like iraq and lebanon, instigating civil unrest so that they (iran) can eventually seize power. the people who got arrested are closed minded people that tell little kids to go block off roads with burning tires so cars cannot pass. to go vandalize, destroy, and draw graffiti on public property. they are told to have many children to dilute the now sunni minority. they also try and fund organizations like hezbollah which leads to deaths of many innocents.
bahrain is a country known to have many co-habiting clans with long histories. sunni or shiite, arab or persian, most regular people co-exist very happily and intermingle with the large foreign population.
don't take my word for it, ask any marine or foreigner what they think of the country's politics and religious extremists.
most people, love the country that is known for being the friendliest and most open in the region.

Speaks a lot about distorted US values when it comes to oil and military ambitions, rule by people is not applicable for these British appointed tyrants dynasties as long as they serve their foreign masters, it's time for US to stop walking the path of past British imperial ways and stop supporting these tyrants since we already fought British in order to become just and humane and the role model for other nations to follow, we're not British and we like our sunrises and sunsets start and stop in US homeland!


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