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Bahrain appeal court sentences 9 medics, acquits 9

A Bahrain appeals court sentences nine medics for their role in March 2011 pro-democracy uprising, and acquits 9 others in a case that spurred international scathing of the Gulf kingdom

AFP , Thursday 14 Jun 2012
Pro-democracy protests in Bahrain. (File Photo: AP)
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Bahrain's appeals court on Thursday sentenced nine doctors to up to five years in jail for their role in anti-regime protests and acquitted nine other medics, reducing terms handed down by a semi-military court, a judicial source said.

The 20 doctors and nurses in the case worked at Manama's Salmaniya Medical complex which was stormed by security forces after the crackdown on a protest encampment at the capital's nearby Pearl Square in March 2011.

Two medics from the same Manama hospital who remain at large did not appeal, the sources said.

Those who were handed a sentence of one year in prison or less have already served their terms and are expected to be released, their defence lawyers said.

Remaining in jail will be consultant orthopaedic surgeon Ali Alekri, whose initial 15-year jail term was cut to five years, and Ibrahim al-Damstani, secretary general of the Bahraini Nursing Society, sentenced to three years.

The medics faced a plethora of charges, the most serious of which was occupying the vital medical centre and possessing weapons while denying Sunni Muslims access to the hospital as Shiite demonstrators camped in the car park.

They were handed jail sentences of between five to 15 years by a semi-military tribunal but retried in a civil court after the public prosecutor dismissed confessions allegedly extracted under torture.

The doctors also stood accused of spreading false news -- particularly concerning the condition of wounded protesters -- illegal acquisition of medicines and medical facilities, and of participating in demonstrations.

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