Proof Confessions Extracted Under Duress: Political Prisoner Acquitted of Attacking Armored Vehicle Charge despite Another Prisoner’s Confession
2019-03-30 - 12:49 p
Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): After unjustly spending two years in prison, a Bahraini court acquitted a political prisoner of charges of attacking, along with other unknown suspects, a security armored vehicle using Molotov cocktails in Al-Shakhoura in 2016, and abolished a 7-year prison sentence issued against him. The prisoner's name was mentioned in the confessions of another prisoner.
The new ruling came after the cassation court overturned the previous verdict and referred it back to the court for re-issuing.
The Court of Cassation stated that the investigator expressly stated beyond any doubt that his investigations did not prove that the mentioned prisoner had taken part in the said incident, and that he did not rely on the fact that the detainee's name was mentioned by one of the defendants because the same accused who confessed about the prisoner's participation also mentioned the names of other detainees who had been acquitted by a court of first instance of the charges against them.
The prisoner's lawyer Zainab Ibrahim accused the courts which issued the previous verdict of violating the law by convicting him despite the fact that the investigator explicitly acknowledged that he was not involved in the incident.
This incident clearly demonstrates the nature of the confessions made by the defendant against his comrades, which is that they are undoubtedly confessions extracted under duress, as in hundreds of cases over which more than 4,000 political prisoners are lingering behind bars.
Despite the fact that over seven years have passed since the issuance of the BICI report, which documented this horrific aspect of the practices of Bahrain's judicial and security apparatuses, this remained an issue.
The BICI report clearly said that the investigations carried out by the commission, in particular, the forensic report, confirm that there are systematic practices involving physical and psychological abuse (in Bahraini prisons), and that in some cases these practices were aimed at extracting confessions and statements under duress. (BICI Report, Article 1238).
Based on such false confessions, since 2011, harsh sentences have been issued against political prisoners. Death penalties, life imprisonment or lengthy prison terms have been handed down to youths, some of whom under 18 years of age, after being convicted of politically-motivated crimes.
The situation was aggravated when the authorities executed the death penalty issued against 3 youths accused of murdering an Emirati officer in 2014, despite their denial of committing such an act, and confirming that they were forced to make false confessions under torture and sexual harassment.
The direct appeals of the United Nations, addressed to the Government of Bahrain to drop all charges and political verdicts issued based on confessional statements, fell on deaf ears and were only met by praise of the judiciary's alleged integrity.
Since 2011, the judiciary has been hearing from all political defendants that they had been brutally tortured to make confessions, but this has completely fell on deaf ears. The court didn't even order carrying out a formal investigation, or refer the detainees' documents to the forensic department, and in some case, refused to listen to the defendants.
For instance, during the doctors trial in 2011, the BICI report states that the defendants filed a complaint in which they alleged that they had been tortured while in custody and that their confessions had been obtained by torture. The Court; however, rejected the defendants' complaint and issued its ruling, considering the confessions as part of the overall evidence in the case. All of the defendants were convicted. The ruling was appealed, and the public prosecution dropped the charges, disregarding the confessions.
"However, the fact that the National Safety Court acted in this manner is a subject of great concern to the Commission." (BICI Report, Article 1241)
The practice that has alarmed the Bassiouni Commission eight years ago is still alarming and ongoing unabated. It is the shocking and bizarre act of justice, yet the kind of justice practiced by the Bahraini judiciary is different from others in the world, just as the democracy in this island kingdom.
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