Sandeep Singh Grewal Staff Reporter

Observers assigned in Bahrain by International human rights group were not allowed yesterday to attend the hearing of 15 people arrested in connection with the disturbances last month. Mohammed Al Maskati, who was assigned by Defender International (DI), an International human rights body to monitor the court hearing, alleged that the authorities changed the timing of the hearing from 10 am to 3 pm. “The authorities changed the timing from morning to afternoon, which is after government working hours. This is a violation of human rights as they knew that I had the permission to attend the court hearing with a journalist only in the morning,” said Maskati, who is also the President of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights. The activist alleged the authorities changed the timing of the trial on purpose so that he could not prepare a report on the proceedings and circulate to International Human Rights Organisation. However, Maskati said he has prepared a detailed report on the incident which has been sent to the DI headquarters in Norway. The trial was postponed to February 24. Those detained are being charged for arson attacks and stealing a weapon. Family members of the detainees started to gather since morning in front of the court building at the Diplomatic Area. Maskati said family members were not aware of the time change of the hearing and ended up protesting until the afternoon. “The family members were not initially allowed to enter the building as the security had closed the gates. In the afternoon, some family members were allowed to attend the court hearing,” Maskati said. The families of the detainees have protested several times outside the office of the Public Prosecutor against the alleged torture inflicted on their kim by the authorities and are demanding their release. The families have also alleged that the authorities were harassing those who testified before the US-based Human Rights Watch. “The authorities should ensure a transparent investigation and allow international observers and families to attend the court hearing. But they changed the timing of the hearing without prior notice, “said Maskati. Last week, the Public Prosecutor refused to allow a six-member team from the Bahrain Human Rights Society to meet the detainees. It said that no doctors or psychiatrists would be allowed to meet the detainees. The Assistant Undersecretary for Legal Affairs at the Ministry of Interior, Brigadier Mohammad Rashid Buhamood, had said that a forensic expert from the Public Prosecution examined the men and there were no signs of torture. Earlier, Abduljalil Al Singace from the Haqq Movement of Liberties and Democracy told the Tribune that those detained could face between 29 to 32 years imprisonment according to the penal code