Mistrial?

You might have heard that there is a trial taking place in Bahrain in which 25 Bahrainis are accused of crimes against the state, everything from sedition through to terrorism and incitement against the regime, all of which carry rather heavy sentences.

You might have also heard that a gag order has been imposed on the media, guaranteeing the absence of transparency and making for the fertile grounds of continued suppositions and incorrect allegations by the public, who have a right to know the truth of what’s happening.

The gag order notwithstanding, the press continue to report around the case, detailing at least the happenings in court rather than expound on and investigate the substance of the accusations; thus, providing a glimpse of what’s happening in the court, a-la soap opera style.

But what has happened over the last few weeks transpired to be better than expected and excellent fodder for a soap opera! The original defence team resigned in toto citing their legitimate demands for investigations of allegations of torture against the detainees by police elements since apprehension and the screening of the defendants by independent medical personnel to determine such receipt of abuse were summarily rejected by the court. The resignation put the court in a quandary, as the Bahraini constitution specifically states that a defendant has a constitutional right to accept or refuse a court appointed lawyer to try his case, defendants rejected the court appointed lawyers; hence, the court-appointed lawyers withdrew from the case. The court saw the resignation as an act of contempt and referred them to the minister of justice requesting disciplinary action taken against them.

Onwards the court proceeded and now assigned a new batch of lawyers to the accused; however, this time, rather than assigning individual lawyers representing individual defendants, the ministry of justice stipulated that a batch of lawyers could and shall represent a batch of defendants in an individual or group manner; hence, should a defendant reject a lawyer, others in the group automatically shall take over representation.

But even then, the court’s trouble did not end. In yesterday’s proceedings, five lawyers withdrew from the case citing unconstitutionality of representing defendants who reject them; another five requested an immediate audience with the justice minister to tell him face-to-face why they cannot proceed with the trial as they have been rejected by their assigned clients and all lawyers demanding the rule of the Constitutional Court as to the applicability of lawyers being forced to represented clients, while only one – Awadh Fouda – interpreted the constitutional article inapplicable as “the constitutional right to consent to the lawyers is inapplicable as the defendants have abused that right” and thus opted to proceed with both the representation and the trial.

The defendants were again unanimous in their rejection of the third wave of legal representation when directly asked by the judge, demanding the restoration of the original defence team.

The five lawyers who withdrew from the case were referred to the disciplinary committee for contempt of court, the defendants were carted off to their prison cells and the trial was once again delayed for a week awaiting the assignment of even more lawyers to take the place of those who withdrew.

At this rate, I think the government should seriously consider the immediate importation of more lawyers from other sympathetic Arab countries, naturalise them and get them to stand in the carousel to fill in the void created by withdrawing lawyers.

I’m not a lawyer and never want to be one, but my simple intellect tells me that (a) this trial has all the hallmarks of being political, (b) the government has lost this one and (c) there is a serious series of flaws surrounding it and therefore should be immediately declared a mistrial and let the defendants go free.

Unless of course, the sham is required to continue for no good reason.

A terror trial against 25 men accused of plotting attacks against Bahrain was adjourned yesterday for another week after five members of the second defence team appointed recently withdrew from the case.

The lawyers stated that the suspects refused to be represented by them. “According to the Constitutional Law, an accused has the right to refuse or accept his lawyer and we have found out that our clients do not want us to defend them,” one of the lawyers stated.
The five lawyers are Ali Al Oraibi, Shahnaz Ali, Taymoor Karimi, Nabeela Al Majid and Loay Qarooni.

Justifying their decision, they said that they cannot go against the Constitutional Law as its articles take precedence over legal articles.

Daily Tribune · 14.1.11

13 thoughts on “Mistrial?”

  1. You would think the government and the royal court, with all the political, legal and financial resources at their disposal, would come up with a better soap opera than this one. They did not. Two bad directors have produced yet another flop.

    The show was mismanaged from the start. It will be interesting to see how the al Al Zayed, the presiding judge will maneuver his way towards February 6., the date expected for sentencing the accused.
    The lwayers’ protesets notwithstanding, jJudge Al Zayed should hurry up. He must sntence the accused on February 6 in order to give our gracious king enough time to dispense, on February 14, one his makramaha pardoning some of ‘misguided criminals’.

  2. Although the government may have lost this one as far the legal case is concerned, it is still a victory for the government.

    From the government’s point of view, exemplary punishment is more important than a conviction. And punish they did. The detainees have been under arrest for over 4 months, allegedly suffering torture. This is enough to ruin someone’s career, or for the younger ones still studying, ruin their education.

    After seeing what has happened to their colleagues in prison, many activists will rethink whether speaking out for human rights is worth all the suffering. That is the government’s victory

    So, a mistrial, a conviction, or a pardon, at this stage is irrelevant — the damage has been done. The government will want to delay the trial as much as it can to increase the suffering of the detainees in jail.

  3. Why do they burn tyres in the first place???
    Now don’t give me those age-old reasons of unemployment and discrimination.

    I mean seriously, don’t these guys have brains???

    Do you think that by jeopardising someone else’s life, their case can get legitimacy???

    They should be tried for all the crimes and given exemplary punishment so that all those other crooks out there, who are even thinking of planning such terror acts, get a clear message.

    1. Now don’t give me those age-old reasons of unemployment and discrimination.

      Hmmmmm.. maybe because they’re unemployed, feel discriminated against and disenfranchised?

      Ah, but then you just flush those concerns as irrelevant. Onwards…

      1. Dude because they aren’t unemployed and discriminated against.

        You should get your statistics straight.

        Go to the ministries of labour, housing, electricity and water, oil and gas, health, Bapco, Asry, Alba, Batelco, Gulf Air and tell me who the majority are.

        Then come and complain.

        Looks like you are weak at Math or is it just the blinkers of sectarianism on your eyes!!!

  4. “Go to the ministries of labour, housing, electricity and water, oil and gas, health, Bapco, Asry, Alba, Batelco, Gulf Air and tell me who the majority are.”

    Look at Bahrain and see who the majority of Bahrainis are.

    “Looks like you are weak at Math or is it just the blinkers of sectarianism on your eyes!!!”

    Ironic.

      1. Hmmmm…

        You say the majority of people in the aforementioned organisations are Shia ?

        Than tell me why the majority of the unemployed are Shia ?

        I will tell you this also very bluntly
        Ministries of Interior, Defense, Justice. Why are they 99% Sunni ??

        Plus .. since when burning a tyre is an act of Terror ???

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