Oct. 5 (Bloomberg) -- A group of Bahraini medics given prison terms by a military tribunal for their role in pro- democracy protests will be retried in civilian courts, Ali al- Boainain, Bahrain’s attorney general, said today.
The 20 people were sentenced to five to 15 years Sept. 29 for occupying the Salmaniya Medical Complex during the rallies in February and March, possessing weapons and seeking to overthrow the government, state-run Bahrain News Agency reported at the time. They had condemned the jail terms as “unfair and harsh” and appealed to international human-rights organizations for an independent investigation into their cases.
Today’s decision came after the Department of Public Prosecution studied the military judgment and determined that the cases should be retried in the civilian courts, al-Boainain said, according to an e-mailed statement from the Information Affairs Authority. The medics won’t be detained pending the outcome of the retrials, he said.
Bahraini authorities detained hundreds of people, most of them Shiite Muslims, following a crackdown on protesters demanding representative government and more rights from the country’s Sunni Muslim rulers. At least 35 people were killed during the clashes. Bahrain’s Shiites represent about 70 percent of the population, according to the U.S. State Department, and have long demanded rights equal to those of Sunnis, including appointments to senior government and military posts.
The sentences followed the medics’ release from five months of detention during which they alleged they were “ill-treated, and tortured to extract confessions of unbelievable allegations leveled” against them, according to an e-mailed statement released Sept. 30.
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