[JURIST] The Bahrain Court of Cassation on Monday upheld jail sentences [BNA report] issued to nine medics convicted for their involvement in Bahrain’s pro-democracy uprising in February and March of 2011, the Bahrain News Agency (BNA) [official website] reported. According to BNA, the medics were working at Salmaniya Medical Complex [official website], and, during the time of the uprising, “took over the complex, detained and imprisoned kidnapped persons, and transformed the hospital to a place of illegal gathering and strikes, in violation of laws.” According to Physicians for Human Rights [PHR report], however, at least 95 health workers were arrested in Bahrain only after some medics treated those hurt by security forces and spoke out against the crackdown against protesters, which included firing upon ambulances. One medic, Dr. Ali al-Ekri, was sentenced to five years imprisonment. Another medic was sentenced to three years while the remaining seven were sentenced to a one-month minimum and one-year maximum term. The nine medics were originally accused and sentenced by the Court of National Security.
A total of 20 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 of this year overturned or reduced the sentences [JURIST report] for most of the medical professionals. In November King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa [official website] 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. In October 2011 a Bahrain court began hearing the appeals [JURIST report] the 20 convicted medical staff members. They were granted the opportunity for retrial in civilian court [JURIST report] earlier that month after their harsh sentences received international criticism. Shortly after their arrest and sentence, the medics urged the UN to investigate claims of abuse and due process violations in relation to their convictions. The medics were originally sentenced [JURIST report] in September 2011.