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Bahrain court reverses convictions for 21 medics arrested during anti-government protests

An appeals court in Bahrain on Thursday vacated convictions for 21 medics who were arrested at a hospital during anti-government protests in 2011. The group of medics were originally charged [Al Jazeera report] with taking part in unauthorized demonstrations after treating protesters [BBC report] who were injured by police and have alleged that they were tortured and coerced into making confessions following their arrest. At least 28 other medics were also charged and sentenced to prison terms for similar conduct, but most of the sentences were overturned. Charges remain for two of those arrested as they failed to appear in court to challenge their convictions.

In October of last year, the Bahrain Court of Cassation upheld jail sentences [JURIST report] issued to nine medics for allegedly participating in the March of 2011 anti-government protests. Twenty medics, including 13 doctors, one dentist, nurses and paramedics, were originally jailed and sentenced in September 2011 for providing treatment to injured protesters after the Salmaniya Medical Complex was stormed by security forces in March. Though originally sentenced to 15 years in prison, a Bahrain court in June 2012 overturned or reduced the sentences [JURIST report] for most of the medical professionals. In November King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa ordered a special commission [JURIST report] to make recommendations after the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) concluded in a report that Bahraini authorities used excessive force [JURIST report] and tortured detained protesters during the pro-democracy demonstrations earlier that year.

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