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Retrial for Bahraini doctors as they speak out against torture

A Bahraini court has ordered for the retrial of 20 doctors and nurses who were sentenced to long prison terms by a military court after treating injured protestors in anti-government demonstrations earlier this year.

The case, which aroused an international outrage, saw the health care workers receive sentences ranging from 5 to 15 years for charges including "inciting hatred to the regime and insulting it”.

A statement on Wednesday appears to have overturned the earlier ruling and said that the accused would be retried in a civilian court.
Dr Fatima Haji, who was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment said that she was tortured while being interrogated. Speaking to Al Jazeera she said,

"I was a human being. I was a doctor. I was doing my duty as a professional.

What we did is our duty as doctors, human beings, mothers. If I knew this would sentence me to life... I would still do it, again and again and again."

"We were basically the main witnesses and we had the highest credibility internationally [to speak] about what was really happening."

During her interrogation she says her guards grew furious when they discovered an email to Human Rights Watch asking for help.

"She started screaming, calling me [prostitute], cursing me, my religion, all of my relatives. She told me, 'how dare you go to complain to Human Rights Watch about your government ...'"

"One after the other they threatened they would rape me if I didn't confess, they said they would leave my body in the dumpster like the other martyrs."

Nada Dhaif, a dentist who had received 15 years in jail also told of how the group were forced to confess to their “crimes”.

"We had to video tape it [forced confessions] for Bahrain TV. We were forced to say it for the camera. We were threatened, blackmailed."

Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Director, Philip Luther, also said that the charges were "ludicrous".

"It appears that the real reason for targeting these health workers was the fact that they denounced the government crackdown on protesters in interviews to international media."

See our earlier post:

‘Bahraini medics imprisoned for treating anti-government protesters’ (Sep 2011)

Also see 'Wikileaks: Captive Tamil doctors "coached" to recant casualty figures'

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