The Bahraini government announced last night (Wednesday) that the medical staff facing sentences of up to 15 years will now be tried by a civilian court.
All 20 doctors and nurses were tried in a military court after giving treating injured demonstrators during the democracy protests earlier in the year. They have already endured months in prison where they were tortured and denied access to legal advice.
There has been an international outcry in the week since the sentences were handed out, but those facing prison are still anxious about the regime’s plans.
Rula al Saffar, the nurses’ union leader whose experience of prison and torture features in this week’s Socialist Worker, spoke to us about the latest announcement.
“There are still many questions to be answered. Our appeal in the military court was due on 23 October. But we do not know if that is to be dropped and the case reopened and reinvestigated with full legal representation for us.
“The announcement might just mean that the appeal hearing will be in a civilian court even though all our confessions and the ‘evidence’ were extracted under torture.”
There are a further 27 medical staff who face lesser charges and three who are already in prison and it is still not clear yet what will happen to them.
Rula says that the response internationally is putting pressure on the regime and that this campaigning needs to continue.
“Months ago the king announced that we would all be tried in a civilian court but then he changed his mind. This can happen again. So we still feel that we are not safe.
“We shouldn’t be in any court, they should drop all the charges and investigate the torturers.”
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