Cablegate: Verdicts for December Rioters

DE RUEHMK #0471/01 1981118
P 161118Z JUL 08

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANAMA 000471



E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/16/2018

REF: A. MANAMA 420 AND PREVIOUS B. MANAMA 118 Classified By: CDA Christopher Henzel for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1.(C) Summary: The high criminal court acquitted four of the 15 men arrested following the December riots, and sentenced the rest to prison terms ranging from one to seven years. Reaction on the Shi'a street was less than expected, and appeared to be uncoordinated. Allegations of detainee abuse persist, despite a lack of physical evidence. Defense attorneys appealed the prison sentences, citing irregularities in the trial. ------- Verdict -------

2.(U) On July 13, the first high criminal court convicted eleven defendants from December's riots on a number of charges, including: burning a police vehicle, assaulting a police officer, and organizing an illegal demonstration. The court acquitted all detainees on charges relating to the theft of a police officer's weapon. Four of the 15 defendants were fully acquitted and released.

3.(U) Hassan Abdulnabi Hassan was convicted on the most serious charges: burning a police vehicle, assaulting a police officer, and organizing an illegal demonstration. The court sentenced him to seven years and a fine of BD 9,985 (USD 26,500) to compensate the Ministry of Interior for the destruction of the police vehicle. (NOTE: Some Shi'a activists are already claiming Abdulnabi got the stiffest sentence because he is part of the Haq movement, which views Bahrain's constitution as illegitimate and is not registered as required by Bahrain's Political Society Law of 2005. In post's view, his sentence probably has more to do with the fact that he threw the Molotov cocktail that ignited the vehicle. End Note.)

4.(U) The court found the following innocent of stealing a police weapon, but guilty of all other charges, and ordered them imprisoned for five years for their role: -- Maytham Bader Jassem Al Sheikh -- Issa Abdulla Issa -- Naji Ali Hassan Ali Fateel -- Mohammed Abdulla Yousef Al Singace

5.(U) The court sentenced the following to one year for their role in burning a police vehicle, assaulting a police officer, and organizing an illegal demonstration: -- Ali Ahmed Abdulaziz Al Madi -- Hussein Abdulhassan Khatem -- Ahmed Jafer Mohammed Ali -- Hussein Shaker Mohammed Fardan -- Mahmood Hassan Saleh -- Ahmed Abdulhadi Ahmed Mahdi

6.(U) The court acquitted the following of all charges and ordered them released: -- Hussein Jaffer Abdulla Butareef -- Abdulla Muhsen Abdulla -- Mohammed Makki Ahmed -- Ebrahim Mohammed Amin Ebrahim Al Arab -------------- Muted Reaction --------------

7.(C) XXXXXXXXXXXX told poloff on July 1 that he expected "the country to go up in flames" if anybody was sentenced. In the event, a few youths did take to the streets July 13 in Sanabis, Jidhafs, Hamala, Sehla, Ma'ameer, Karbabad, Malkiya, and Diraz. Local press reported that a riot police officer was injured by a Molotov cocktail, and police arrested four protesters. On July 14, XXXXXXXXXXXX told poloff the relative calm of the demonstrations was due to a heavy police presence. Nonetheless, he was still surprised. A pro-Haq movement cleric, Sheikh Ali Al Jidhafsi, led a small protest in Sanabis on July 14.

8.(C) The Chief of Public Security, Major General Abdul Latif Al Zayani told A/DCM on July 15 that the response was not as extensive as he anticipated and that it appeared to be uncoordinated. Zayani speculated that the four acquittals, and the release from Saudi Arabia of eight Bahraini Shi'a in MANAMA 00000471 002 OF 002 an unrelated case, helped calm the situation. (NOTE: King Hamad intervened personally with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to return the eight to Bahrain. Their release has dominated press coverage since July 12 and earned King Hamad considerable good will from Bahraini Shi'a. End Note.) -------------------- Allegations of Abuse --------------------

9.(C) A court-appointed medical team, led by Dr. Ali Jaffar Al Aradi, a Ministry of Health orthopedist, testified on May 11 that because more than six weeks had passed between the arrests and the team's examinations, they could not rule out maltreatment despite an absence of physical evidence. Issa Abdulla Issa told the court that the Public Prosecution coerced him to claim that he passed the stolen police weapon to Ebrahim Al Arab. Public Prosecution denied all allegations of abuse or coercion. XXXXXXXXXXXX claimed to poloff that Issa's allegations played a role in the court's decision to acquit Al Arab, and all of the detainees accused of stealing the weapon.

10.(C) January press reports cited an alleged whispered conversation between Maytham Al Sheikh and his father in which Maytham claimed that prison guards had sexually assaulted him with a wooden rod (REF B). Zayani said that the doctor who examined Al Sheikh told him personally that there was no evidence of his allegations. If the claim were true, the doctor said, there would be evidence.

11.(C) Mohammed Al Singace also alleged that prison guards abused him. His brother, Abduljalil Al Singace, is the director of media and international relations for the Haq movement. In January, Abduljalil circulated a letter claiming Mohammed had been beaten with metal bars. In March, poloff received a mass text message from Abduljalil claiming Mohammed had been mistreated, denied medical attention, gone on hunger strike, and refused to see any visitors. Government officials, and even a number of human rights activists, including Abdulla Al Derazi, Secretary General of the Bahrain Human Rights Society, expressed skepticism about the severity of the allegations. ------------------------------------------- XXXXXXXXXXXX Alleges Irregularities in the Trial -------------------------------------------

12.(C) XXXXXXXXXXXX believed there were some irregularities in the trial. He said the third judge in the tribunal for most of the case, an Egyptian named Mohammed Al Kafrawi, was absent when the sentences were read out; another, Abdulla Al Ashraf, took his seat for this hearing; XXXXXXXXXXXX claims this is contrary to established legal practice in Bahrain. XXXXXXXXXXXX also claimed Hassan Abdulnabi's fine contradicted the penal code, which he said does not allow for compensation unless the victim is also a plaintiff; XXXXXXXXXXXX holds that the Ministry of Interior was not a plaintiff. Defense attorneys filed an appeal on behalf of the convicted defendants. ********************************************* ******** Visit Embassy Manama's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX********************************************* ******** HENZEL

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