Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Prisoners 'on hunger strike for a fair trial'

Prisoners 'on hunger strike for a fair trial'

By sara sami
Published: 29th January 2008

SEVERAL prisoners detained following violent clashes between demonstrators and police last month have allegedly gone on hunger strike, human rights activists said yesterday.
Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS) assistant secretary-general Dr Abdulla Al Deerazi said the men had taken the action in protest at the conditions they were being held in and to highlight their demand for fair trials.

However, Interior Ministry officials later said they were unaware of the hunger strike as well as reports that two detainees had been admitted to hospital after passing out in custody.
"We heard from families of the detainees that the rioters have gone on a hunger strike because they believe that they will not be given a fair trial," said Dr Al Deerazi.

"They are objecting to their conditions in their cells and to the abuse they are being put through in custody, according to their families' claims to the society."

Dr Al Deerazi said some of the prisoners are said to have been on hunger strike for around a week.

He said he had heard reports that two detainees had been taken to the hospital yesterday after passing out in custody, but was unable to validate them.

"We are worried about their conditions and we hope they are being given proper medical examinations and regular check-ups," said Mr Al Deerazi.

The suspects earlier claimed they had been abused in custody, but police have repeatedly denied the allegations, describing them as "groundless".

Interior Ministry assistant under-secretary for legal affairs Colonel Mohammad Buhamood has said anyone alleging abuse was examined by a forensic doctor and medical tests showed none of the detainees had been tortured.

The BHRS was also given permission to visit the men in jail, where they are being held while awaiting trial.

Dr Al Deerazi revealed prosecutors have told BHRS officials they will not be allowed to take
doctors with them during their visits, which he said was contradictory to an earlier agreement.
"If they really claim that the detainees have not been tortured or abused then why aren't we allowed to take doctors to examine them?"

Dr Al Deerazi said officials were still hoping to persuade prosecutors to allow them to take doctors with them, but said any further delay would render the investigation of torture allegations impossible.