The highest court in the Gulf State of Bahrain upheld the death sentence against two men charged with killing a policeman, despite evidence of torture in extracting a confession implicating them.
Husain Moosa, 34, and Mohammed Ramadhan, 37, were sentenced to death in 2014 after being charged with targeting police officers with a bomb, killing one of them. Their sentences were overturned following an internal review of allegations that the men had been tortured.
The Court of Cassation on Monday reinstated the death sentences after reviewing all the evidence again.
Ramadhan and Moosa have now exhausted all legal remedies and their execution could occur at any time.
British MPs and peers from all parties last week urged the Bahraini royal family to reconsider, partly because there was so much concern from advocacy groups that confessions made in 2014 but since withdrawn could not be deemed safe.
The UK provides security assistance to Bahrain’s prison and judicial departments, and critics say the aid is achieving little by way of reform but instead primarily acts as a shield to allow Britain to maintain a major strategic naval base in the kingdom.
Some MPs have demanded that the UK end its assistance if the executions go ahead, but the Foreign office has declined to give such an undertaking, saying it is convinced that the kingdom is seeking to reform.
On Sunday the British ambassador to Bahrain, Roderick Drummond, met Bahrain’s minister of foreign affairs, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani by videoconference. The UK is planning to double its trade with Bahrain, and is dependent on the naval base.
The confirmation of the decision of the Court of Cassation was announced by the public prosecutors on their Instagram page on Monday.
Mohammed’s wife, Zainab Ebrahim, said she and her husband’s lawyer had been barred entry to the court room and she had not been given a reason. She wrote on Twitter: “The terror of knowing that my husband can be executed by firing squad at any moment without proper notice is tearing me apart. I don’t know how I will be able to tell my three children that their father is never coming home.”
Her husband had also used Twitter to appeal for help, saying he knew few would listen to him since he was not famous and did not have money.
Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s director, said: “UK support for Bahrain must not be allowed to provide cover for what is obviously a deeply dysfunctional Bahraini justice system, one that allows mass unfair trials, strips people of their nationality and passes appalling death sentences like this.”
Hopes for their release were first raised in 2018 when the Court of Cassation overturned the death sentences and ordered local oversight bodies to investigate whether the men had been tortured, after representations by human rights groups. Their death sentences were reimposed on January 08 by the high court of appeal.
Bahrain’s government said the case met all requirements of a fair trial, and the initial judgment was followed by a second trial that looked into the allegations of abuse.
Bahrain, which is led by a Sunni Muslim royal family but has a Shia majority population, has been clamping down on dissent since 2011 when it quashed protests with Saudi help. (Source: The Guardian)