Fourth Bahraini dies in custody, HRW urges probe

AFP , Wednesday 13 Apr 2011

Fourth death of Bahraini detainee, corpse carries signs of “horrific abuse” says rights group

A fourth detainee has died in Bahraini custody, the country's Shiite opposition said on Wednesday, as Human Rights Watch urged the Gulf kingdom to investigate the deaths of arrested activists.

"The death of businessman Karim Fakhrawi in mysterious circumstances in prison has been confirmed," the main Shiite opposition group, Al-Wefaq, said on its Facebook page.

Al-Wefaq said the death of Fawakhri, arrested on April 3, was the fourth since the Sunni-ruled country, backed by forces from Gulf neighbours, crushed Shiite-led street protests in mid-March.

The latest reported death has not been officially confirmed.

Bahrain's interior ministry announced on Sunday that two Shiite activists had died in detention, including Ali Issa Saqer, 31, fatally injured by prison security guards after "causing chaos in detention".

A third death was reported earlier this month.

"Bahrain’s public prosecutor should investigate the three deaths in custody reported since April 3, 2011, and hold accountable anyone found responsible for torture, ill-treatment, or denial of medical care," Human Rights Watch said.

The New York-based HRW said it has "observed the body" of Saqer which "bore signs of horrific abuse".

Two of the deaths were caused by sickle cell disease, a genetic blood disorder, according to the interior ministry.

HRW urged Manama "to disclose the whereabouts of detainees, permit them to contact their families and lawyers, and open detention centres to independent inspection", numbering those arrested since mid-February at more than 400.

"It's outrageous and cruel that people are taken off to detention and the families hear nothing until the body shows up with signs of abuse," the rights group said.

On Tuesday, European Parliament chief Jerzy Buzek condemned the deaths of Shiite activists in Bahraini custody and expressed concern over reports they had been tortured.

"I am deeply concerned by concurrent reports of several human rights organisations that both activists had been tortured in prison and might have been killed," he said.

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