The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses grave concern over the continued culture of impunity and lack of justice in Bahrain in the prosecution and sentencing of a shooting victim, without evidence, while his attacker was never held accountable for the crime.
On 22 February 2013, Sayed Majed Sayed Hasan, 18 years-old, was shot with another young man with live ammunition by an individual in a civilian car in the village of Buri, where a pro-democracy protest was taking place. The two young men were immediately taken to the hospital where Sayed Hasan underwent a surgery to stabilize his condition, although the bullet was not removed.
On 25 April 2013 at dawn, Sayed Hasan’s house was raided and he was arrested without warrant, his house was searched and private property in the house was vandalized. His family stated that he was forced to stand for long hours at the Criminal Investigation Department, and whenever he became tired and sat down, he would be beaten. He was interrogated by the public prosecution without the presence of his lawyer and was charged with “illegal gathering, rioting, and assault of policemen”. He was then ordered to 45 days detention pending further investigation.
On 05 January 2014, after more than nine months from the initial shooting incident, Sayed Hasan underwent a surgery to remove the bullet from his chest. He was transferred from the hospital after only one day to be taken back to the dry dock detention center in a clear disregard for his well-beng by both the hospital staff and the prison administration.
He was sentenced on 27 March 2014 to fifteen years imprisonment. Although, defense witnesses stated that after he was shot, and at the time that Sayed Hasan was accused with committing the charges against him, Sayed Hasan could not exert much effort as the smallest movements would leave him exhausted as a result of the bullet that remained in his chest at the time. His lawyer argued that Sayed Hasan could not possibly perform what he was accused of. His lawyer stated that the investigation, which took only three days, lacked seriousness and should not be considered. However, the verdict was issued by the judge only 48 hours after presenting the defense’s argument. It is worth mentioning that Sayed Hasan was the only one arrested and sentenced in this case, while the public prosecution stated that the alleged crimes were committed by a group of people.
The shooter in this case was never held accountable, despite all the information available about him. Sayed Hasan was interrogated about the incident when he was first taken to the hospital to receive treatment. Moreover, eyewitnesses gave a detailed description of the shooter’s car and recorded the number on the license plate, which was a three digit number; such numbers are typically assigned to ‘VIP’ people by the government.
The BCHR believes that this case clearly demonstrates the widespread culture of impunity in Bahrain, where criminals are seldom held accountable for their crimes, and where peaceful protesters are sentenced to lengthy prison sentences in hearings that usually the lack basic standard of a fair trial. Sayed Hasan’s case is also representative of dozens of prisoners who are subject to deprivation of their right to adequate medical treatment by the authorities and especial prisons’ administration.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls for the following:
- Immediately launch an independent investigation into the incident and bring the responsible party of the shooting of the two boys to justice.
- Put an end to the culture of impunity and bring those accountable for the protection of criminals to justice, including officials in the public prosecution.