Saturday, September 20, 2008

GDN:Medical report row

Medical report row

By Geoffrey Bew
Published: 20th September 2008

LAWYERS and human rights activists are demanding to see the results of medical examinations carried out on 19 murder suspects, who claimed they were abused in police custody.The men are standing trial for the murder of Pakistani policeman Majid Asghar Ali Kareem Baksh, 24, in April.
They all denied the allegation when they first appeared in the High Criminal Court in June and alleged that confessions had been beaten out of them.
Lawyer Ahmed Al Arrayedh, who is leading the men's defence team, told the GDN that justice could not be done without the results of the medical report.
"It is still not ready and the medical commission has not submitted its report," he said.
He added that no explanation had been given for the delay, but hoped it would be produced in the next court hearing scheduled for October 6.
Mr Baksh was killed when his patrol car was attacked with Molotov cocktails.
It is understood he was on plainclothes duty in Karzakan, off Budaiya Highway, when the attack took place.
However, members of the dissolved Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) and other activists have backed Mr Al Arrayedh's call.
"It is over three months since the compliance of the court judge to have a medical committee examine the detainees against allegations of torture, which they strongly and repeatedly exhibited in court," said a joint statement.
"The lawyers have indicated that they have not received a copy of the report and need time to prepare their deliberation."
Activists also expressed concern that the men's case was being heard in tandem with the trial of those accused of torching a farm in Karzakan, which belongs to a member of the Ruling Family.
Two of those named as defendants in the murder trial are also accused of taking part in the arson.
"Although a medical committee was lately formed, it is feared that the outcome of its report will be influenced by the long period since the detainees were (allegedly) exposed to torture to extract confessions," said the joint statement.
"Most torture symptoms would normally vanish after six to eight weeks."
Earlier this month, Mr Al Arrayedh called for the immediate release of the 13 alleged arsonists, saying they were among 225 prisoners pardoned in July.
"They were given a form to fill, in which it was said they apologised for all the things which they were accused of and promising that they would not break the law in the future," he said.
"Three men signed it, but the others thought it was a confession so they refused."
However, Mr Al Arrayedh said all the men were still in prison. He claimed the detainees were also suffering from bad treatment, even during Ramadan.
"They are prevented from drinking cold water, even after iftar, and told to drink from the tap," he claimed.
"They are not allowed to go outside their cells and are not allowed visitors."
Mr Al Arrayedh also claimed prison guards were trying to provoke them so they could be put in solitary confinement.
"We complained to the court, but did not get a reply," he said.

© Gulf Daily News