Seven police officers in Bahrain have been charged with torturing and mistreating medical professionals who were detained during opposition protests held in March 2011, authorities said Monday. The police officers were trying to coerce the medical professionals into confessing that they committed misdemeanor assault and slander [Gulf News report]. The police officers' trial is scheduled to start [BBC report] on October 1. The two police officers who are accused of committing the most serious infractions will be tried in the High Criminal Court [Al Jazeera report], while the others will be tried in the Lower Criminal Court. Ten other officers remain under investigation. In June, a Bahrain Court overturned or reduced the sentences [JURIST report] for most of the 20 medical professionals convicted last September of participating in the country's pro-democracy protests against the ruling regime. The 13 doctors, one dentist, nurses and paramedics who were jailed for providing treatment to injured protesters all worked at the Salmaniya Medical Complex [official website] in Manama, which was stormed by security forces in March after they drove protesters out of the nearby Pearl Square.
Protests and demonstrations in Bahrain have been ongoing since February 2011 [JURIST report]. Earlier this month the government of Bahrain announced that it would pursue legal proceedings [JURIST report] against the al Wefaq [official website, in Arabic] political party, which it labels an opposition group, for engaging in anti-government protests in the face of a ban [JURIST report] of those activities. Also this month, a civilian court in Bahrain upheld lengthy prison sentences [JURIST report] for 20 opposition and human rights activists, including eight life sentences. At the end of August a Bahraini appeals court overturned the conviction [JURIST report] of prominent human rights activist Nabeel Rajab [JURIST news archive]. In July Amnesty International [advocacy website] urged the government [JURIST report] of Bahrain to release all prisoners of conscience [press release] immediately. The Bahrain Information Affairs authority announced in July that they had brought charges against 15 police officers [JURIST report] for alleged "mistreatment of inmates in custody." In June the government announced that it would pay $2.6 million in restitution [JURIST report] to citizens who lost family members during the violent protests to comply with recommendations of an independent commission who concluded that Bahrain authorities had used excessive force and tortured detainees involved in the pro-democracy demonstrations.