Bahrain: After Torture And Defamation, Ali Al-Haji Faces An Unjust Trial On Charges Of Carrying Out Terrorist Acts In The American Service Center
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its deep concern for the authorities in Bahrain continued fabrication of malicious cases against activists and citizens; to punish them for peacefully expressing their opinions. This punishment includes torturing, defaming and bringing them forth to trials that lack the most basic elements of justice. The detainee Ali Hussein Ahmed Al-Haji – 30 years – who declared being subjected to torture at the Criminal Investigation Department, and whose photo was broadcasted on national TV, and who is currently facing charges of carrying out terrorist acts in the American Service Center in Juffair is an utmost example of this.
The Security Apparatuses arrested Al-Haji at dawn on 20 May 2013 from his apartment in Tubli. Al-Haji informed the observers of the BCHR that those who arrested him did not have an order to search the apartment or an arrest warrant. The apartment was raided by a group of policemen dressed in civilian clothes, and who are believed to be affiliated with the National Security Apparatus, they beat him and cursed his sect and hit him in front of his wife before blindfolding and handcuffing him; he was then taken out. They also confiscated electronic devices, some of them belonging to his wife.
They led Al-Haji to the Criminal Investigation Department and the interrogation was initiated by the Jordanian interrogator Isa Al-Majali, whose name was published by the BCHR among the “Wanted for Justice” campaign due to his involvement in many torture complaints[i]. Al-Haji was questioned about the sudden peaceful demonstrations that take place in Manama without prior notice out of fear of being suppressed. When he refused to say that he knew anything about those demonstrations, Al-Majali slapped him several times on the face and cursed him, and then forced him to sign on papers with an unknown content, as he was not permitted to read it.
On the same day, he was transferred to the Public Prosecution building which was empty of staff. There, Al-Haji informed the Public Prosecutor about the torture and violations he was subjected to during the interrogation. However, all that did not prevent them from returning him to the Criminal Investigation Department where he was beaten and tortured again. Al-Haji stated that a group who he could not recognize beat him with their shoes on his face, and they concentrated on the eye, mouth and nose, as well as beating him on his testicles which made him collapse and confess this time that he was among the group that carried out an act that targets the Prime Minister’s convoy. Torture continued to make him confess to further charges, as they continued to beat him on the face by using shoes and a piece of wood and hands. He was wounded with a sharp object in his lower back, and was forced to stand for long periods of time, as well as being prevented from sleep while continuing to kick him non-stop. He was stripped off his clothes and they urinated on him, in addition to threatening to fire bullets on his leg, and threatening to rape his wife and killing his young son, and subjecting his parents to severe interrogation, as well as threatening to use the electrocution device. During the torture period, his nose was broken and he needed to undergo a medical operation. Since the time of his arrest and until he was presented to the Public Prosecutor for the second time on 31 May 2013, Al-Haji was subjected to enforced disappearance where he was not able to meet his family or contact a lawyer. The Public Prosecutor Hamad Al-Buainain told him that he will be taken back to torture in the Criminal Investigation Department if he refuses to confess to the charges against him and put an end to the matter. He was charged with joining “a terrorist cell and plotting to carry out bombings in vital areas, including performing terrorist acts at the American Service Center”. The state television broadcasted on 13 June 2013, even before the trial began, the photos of Al-Haji with three others claiming their involvement in carrying out terrorist acts, in a violation to the most basic bases of a fair trial.
The BCHR confirmed in earlier reports the complicity of the Public Prosecution in the violations[ii] and systematic torture and the spread of impunity which contributed in the increase of the number of victims since the kickoff of the 14 February revolution until this day.
Al-Haji’s trial began with four other defendants on 21 November 2013; all the defendants denied the charges at court. It was evident from the first session the lack of the intention to carry out a fair trial, where the Judge Ali Al-Dhahrani threw one of the defendants (Mr. Muneer Habib) out of court just for saying that the Public Prosecutor Hamad Al-Buainain participated in torturing him and forcing him to confess. Two other defendants in the same case mentioned that they were subjected to torture, and one of the lawyers witnessed the torture marks on the back of his client. (Refer to the BCHR report on the first session: /en/node/6676). The BCHR monitored the lack of the bases of a fair trial in many cases that were looked into by the Fourth High Criminal Court headed by Judge Khalifa Al-Dhahrani.[iii]
The BCHR finds that the Authorities in Bahrain are still targeting citizens and practicing against them the most horrid violations by arresting and torturing them to force them to confess, and defaming them, and bringing them forth to a politicized Judicial body that lacks the most basic elements of justice especially that the Judges are appointed by the country’s ruler in person, not to mention that some of them are members of the ruling family, and on top of them is the Minister of Justice.
Based on the above, the BCHR calls the US, UK, UN and all the Authority’s close allies and relevant international organizations to the following:
- Stop supporting the Authority in Bahrain in its suppression of people’s rights;
- Put pressure on the Authority in Bahrain to consider and maintain human rights in Bahrain and stop the violations.
It also calls the Authority in Bahrain to the following:
- Release the political prisoners and prisoners of consciousness;
- Stop fabricating charges and cases against detainees and activists with the intend to punish them for their activity;
- Investigate the torture allegations and coercion filed by the detainees against the security apparatuses’ and Public Prosecution members;
- Adhere to the international treaties and conventions it has endorsed and signed and which advocate the maintenance of human rights.