Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Trial halted

Trial halted by royal pardon

By NOOR TOORANI, Posted on » Wednesday, April 29, 2009

THE trial of 35 men accused of plotting to carry out terrorist attacks during Bahrain's National Day celebrations was suspended yesterday, following a royal pardon.
Twenty-two Bahraini men, including 14 arrested when the suspected plot was first discovered last December, are among 178 prisoners and detainees pardoned by His Majesty King Hamad on April 11.
Those on trial include Haq Movement for Liberties and Democracy chief Hassan Mushaima, media and international relations director Dr Abduljalil Al Singace and religious scholar Mohammed Al Moqdad.
It is understood the other 13 suspects are still at large.
The defence team appeared before the High Criminal Court yesterday, without their clients, and requested judges to remove the travel ban imposed on the defendants by the Public Prosecution.
"Some of our clients have attempted to travel since their release but they have been stopped by authorities, we request the court to make sure the travel ban imposed on them is removed," requested attorney Jalila Al Sayed.
Prosecutors, however, dismissed the claim saying a travel ban was never imposed on the alleged terror suspects.
Prosecutors also submitted a document confirming the men are among those pardoned and advised the suspension of the case indefinitely, which stirred objections from the defence.
Ms Al Sayed argued that any ongoing criminal trial should be terminated in the case of a pardon and not suspended.
"There is nothing mentioned in the law that states a case should be suspended in the chances of a royal pardon," she said.
"But the criminal procedures law clearly states that a case will be terminated when an amnesty is issued."
The defence team also submitted a document in which they demanded the court to terminate the case, since the men were among those released under the pardon on April 12.
Judges disagreed and ordered that the trial be suspended indefinitely.
Ms Al Sayed also demanded the return of the men's personal belongings, seized during their arrests.
Judges ordered authorities to look into this.
The December 17 plot allegedly included ambushing policemen, destroying public property and attacking shopping malls, markets and hotels with homemade explosives.
The three political figures were accused of promoting and instigating people to change the political system by violent means, inciting people to spread hatred against the ruling system and financing and supporting a terrorist group.
The eight-member defence team earlier argued that the prosecution committed a crime by taping and publishing the men's confessions during the investigation.
Judges earlier decided to re-investigate the case after lawyers claimed the investigation carried out by the Public Prosecution was null and void because they committed a crime punishable by law. The men had earlier denied the charges against them.