Two weeks in Bahrain’s military courts

Al Jazeera reports: Teachers, professors, politicians, doctors, athletes, students and others have all appeared in Bahrain’s military courts. In just two weeks, 208 people were sentenced or lost appeals, leading to a cumulative total of just less than 2,500 years in prison.

Many of those imprisoned took part in massive pro-democracy protests earlier this year. Others, families say, were in the wrong place at the wrong time and were targeted by virtue of their religious sect.

One lawyer, who represents dozens of the convicted and who asked not to be named, told Al Jazeera the total number of how many have stood in front of military courts is not clear – but he estimates at least 600. “Well over 1,000 people have been arrested since the crackdown began,” he said.

In an attempt to quell the uprising, the island’s rulers invited Saudi and other Gulf troops to Bahrain in March and called for a three-month state of emergency, or what it called the “National Safety Law”.

With the emergency law, came the military trials of hundreds of people in “National Safety Courts”. According to the lawyer, the courts were basically military courts, since both judge and general prosecutor were drawn from the military judicial system.

Death sentences were given out from trials that lasted less than two weeks. Many hearings lasted only a matter of minutes before verdicts were handed out. According to lawyers and defendants’ families, the main form of evidence in most cases were the confessions of the accused.

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