Convicted Bahraini doctors, nurses urge U.N. to investigate their protest-linked jail sentences

The Associated Press reports:

Bahraini doctors and nurses convicted of links to anti-government protests and sentenced to long prison terms appealed to the U.N. chief Saturday to investigate their claims of abuse and judicial violations in the trial.

The medical professionals — whose sentences range from five to 15 years — are appealing the security court’s ruling and speaking out against the wider crackdown by the Gulf kingdom’s Sunni rulers against protests for greater rights by the Shiite majority.

The trial has been closely watched by rights groups that have criticized Bahrain’s prosecution of civilians at the special security court, which was set up under martial law-style rule that was lifted in June. The U.N. human rights office and the U.S. State Department are among those questioning the use of the court, which has military prosecutors and both civilian and military judges.

The doctors and nurses worked at the state-run Salmaniya Medical Center close to the capital’s Pearl Square, which became the epicenter of Bahrain’s uprising, inspired by other revolts across the Arab world. The authorities saw the hospital’s mostly Shiite staff — some of whom participated in pro-democracy street marches — as protest sympathizers, although the medics claimed they treated all who needed care.

“During the times of unrest in Bahrain, we honored our medical oath to treat the wounded and save lives. And as a result, we are being rewarded with unjust and harsh sentences,” said a statement released by the medics after the court’s ruling.

The group was convicted Thursday on charges that include attempting to topple the Gulf kingdom’s rulers and spreading “fabricated” stories. In a separate trial, the security court sentenced a protester to death for the killing of a police officer during the clashes that began in February.

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