Lawyers and Activists: Impossible That A Bomb Caused Explosion Of A Car, But Did Not Harm A Nearby Tree
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its concern over the Bahraini judiciary’s continuous retribution against political detainees by convicting them in malicious cases. Individuals are coerced into making confessions under torture and degrading treatment and then placed on show trials that lack the minimum standards of fair trials. On Sunday 10 November 2013, the Fourth Criminal Court, headed by Judge Ali Khalifa Al-Dhahrani, sentenced in absentia two defendants to life imprisonment: Zuhair Jasim Ashoor (32 years-old) and Ali Mohammed Habib (34 years-old). Two others were sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment: Hasan Mohammed Habib and Hussain Hasan Abbas Al-Madhoon (25 years-old) in the case of an alleged car explosion in Riffa.
The Ministry of Interior announced on Wednesday 17 July 2013 on its official account on the social network website twitter that there was an alleged car explosion in the parking lot of one of Riffa's mosques, and said that security forces were following-up with the required security procedures. At noon the following day - 18 July 2013 – the security forces raided several homes in Karzakan village, and arrested Ali Mohammed Habib. There were also reports from individuals in Karzakan village that Hussain Hasan Al-Madhoon was arrested from his workplace and Shaikh Zuhair Jasim Ashoor was arrested from a checkpoint near one of the shopping malls. The detainees were subjected to enforced disappearance for more than before being allowed to contact their families. During the first court session, the defendants were not brought to court for ‘security reasons’, and their lawyer made a statement about about the torture that they were subjected to in the Criminal Investigation Department building in order to coerce them into confessing their responsibility for the alleged bombing.
(Photo of security force in front of detainee Ali Mohammed Habib in Karzakan during his arrest)
Tariq Al-Hasan, Head of Public Security, held a press conference on 22 July 2013 where he displayed photos of the three defendants. Their families reported being surprised by the news as they did not know anything about the case before the conference. The Prime Minister, Khalifa Salman Al-Khalifa, called for taking legal measures and actions against the detained individuals, calling them terrorists. It is also worth noting that the defendants boycotted two consecutive court hearings due to lack of confidence in the judges. The defendants also requested that the defense team to withdraw from representing them before court. In regard to the verdict and the details of the incident, lawyer Ali Al-Jufairi stated on his twitter account: “life and fifteen years imprisonment for 3 [defendants]. As per their defense there aren't witnesses or evidence on the prosecution accusation. The strange matter is a bombing that don't burn tree leaves”. He added that: “it is the only bombing in the world that doesn't leave waste or effect is Riffa bombing. Notice how the pavement is yellow with no fire remnant!!” “
(Photo of the exploded car as been published by the Ministry of Interior, showing the undamaged pavement and tree branch while the car is completely burnt)
Abdulla Zainaldeen, the lawyer of one of the detainees in the case stated that “the authorities claimed when they disclosed the circumstances of Riffa explosion case in the press conference that it had physical evidence convicting the three youths from Karzakan. The evidence was photographs as well as the defendants’ fingerprints. The strange thing in the matter is that during the conference no reports regarding the results of the fingerprints or any other reports were issued yet, as most of the reports were issued two days or more following the conference. This lead us to one conclusion that the charges were fabricated against these innocent individuals, not to mention the severe torture all detained [in the case] were subjected to.
The acting Vice President of the BCHR, Said Yousif Al-Muhafdha, commented on the verdicts against those detainees stating that: “There isn't any evidence incriminating the Karzakan defendants in the "Riffa Explosion". Their confessions were forcibly taken under torture and those were arrested in the case are activists.” Al-Muhafdha added that the appointed judiciary by the ruler of Bahrain, Hamad Isa Al-Khalifa, is a used as a tool to oppress the political opposition.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls on the United States, the United Kingdom, the UN, and all other close allies and relevant international institutions to apply real pressure on the Government of Bahrain to:
- Stop oppressing the rights of the people and the using the judiciary as a tool against activists and the opposition.
- Put pressure on the authorities in Bahrain to preserve and maintain human rights and put an end to the violations
- Unconditionally release all political prisoners
- Investigate torture allegations by detainees and prosecute those implicated in fair trials
- Reform the judiciary system and depoliticize it