Bahrain Panel to Review Controversial Verdicts

Bahrain to set up a judicial panel to review verdicts that were issued by a court over involvement in anti-government protests.

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Elad Benari,

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Bahrain said Monday that it would set up a judicial panel to review verdicts that were issued by a semi-military court over involvement in anti-government protests, AFP reported.

The panel is being established in accordance with the recommendations of a king-commissioned independent probe, which slammed authorities for using excessive force in the mid-March crackdown on anti-regime protests.

The deputy head of the supreme judicial council, Sheikh Khalifa bin Rashid Al-Khalifa, was quoted by AFP as saying the panel would review the verdicts “in terms of applying international principles of fair trials, including the right to have a lawyer and proof verification.”

The panel would also review convictions in cases “linked to the freedom of expression which did not involve incitement to violence,” Al-Khalifa added.

The Sunni Arab monarchy became the center of world attention when its Shiite majority rose against the government, leading to a fierce crackdown and an intervention by its Gulf Cooperation Council Allies who sent in the Saudi Arabia dominated Peninsula Shield force to restore order.

In November, Bahrain’s government admitted that it used excessive force and mistreated detainees during the unrest that rocked the country.

The government’s admission came ahead of a report by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), the creation of which was ordered by King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa in June, to look into allegations of human rights violations in the monarchy.

The country’s largest opposition group, Al Wafeq, dismissed the government’s statement, saying the repression of mainly Shiite anti-government protesters by the country's Sunni monarchy is "systematic."

Meanwhile, the violence in the country has continued: Just a week and a half ago, security forces stormed Al Wafeq's headquarters, firing tear gas and rubber bullets.

Police also used tear gas to disperse hundreds of opposition supporters attempting to protest elsewhere in the capital.