Dozens of doctors and nurses went on trial Monday in Bahrain, accused of taking control of a hospital during anti-government protests, storing weapons and keeping people prisoner.
The doctors, their lawyers and international human rights activists say the defendants were tortured to extract confessions against a background of demonstrations in the kingdom.
Eleven male doctors appeared in court Monday, their heads shaven, alongside at least five female doctors. They appeared stressed and anxious.
One of the doctors tried to tell the judge that his confession had been extracted under torture, but the judge told him to stop and that he would be able to give evidence later in the trial.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports:
A 20-year-old woman who recited poems critical of Bahrain’s rulers — and later claimed she was beaten in jail — was sentenced Sunday to a year in prison as part of the kingdom’s crackdown on Shiite protesters calling for greater rights.
The ruling by a special security tribunal sent a strong message that Bahrain’s Sunni monarchy is not easing off on punishments linked to the unrest despite appeals for talks with Shiite groups in the strategic Gulf island nation, which is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.
Ayat al-Qurmezi became a minor celebrity among protesters after reciting poems critical of Bahrain’s king and prime minister during gatherings in the capital’s Pearl Square, which was the hub for Shiite-led demonstrations that broke out in February after drawing inspiration from the Arab uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.
One verse, addressed to King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, included the lines: “We are the people who will kill humiliation and assassinate misery. Don’t you hear their cries? Don’t you hear their screams?”
She was convicted of anti-state charges, including inciting hatred, said the official Bahrain News Agency. Her mother, Sada al-Qurmezi, said an appeal is planned.