Bahrain’s top criminal court has upheld the death penalty of two pro-democracy activists who were convicted based on torture-tainted “confessions”.
On Wednesday, the High Criminal Court of Appeals upheld the previous sentencing of Mohammed Ramadhan, 37, and Hussein Moosa, 33, who were convicted in 2014 for their alleged involvement in killing a security officer.
The two –who were leading figures during the peaceful Bahraini protests of 2011 which were brutally crushed with the support of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—were tortured during interrogation to confess to a crime they hadn’t committed.
In October 2018, the Court of Cassation, Bahrain’s highest court, overturned previous rulings against them based on evidence that included a medical report and asked for the death sentences to be reviewed.
However, Wednesday’s decision will now be sent to the Court of Cassation and if approved, the two activists will face execution.
Many rights groups have condemned the ruling, saying it reveals that the Bahrain judiciary is corrupt.
The ruling is “nothing short of a political assassination and a total mockery of justice,” said Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, director of advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD).
He added that Ramadhan and Moosa “had their death sentences confirmed despite compelling evidence that they were tortured,” which shows Bahrain’s judiciary is corrupt.
Husain Abdulla, the executive director of Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), said that “this case exemplifies the corrupt and inhumane justice system in Bahrain”.
He further expressed hope that through pressure on the Manama regime, the two activists “may escape an arbitrary and unlawful execution”.
Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February 2011.
They are demanding that the Al Khalifah regime relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established. Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.
Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown. The regime has also been routinely revoking the citizenship of dissidents.
On March 5, 2017, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to the imposition of an undeclared countrywide martial law.
Bahraini King, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah, ratified the constitutional amendment on April 3, 2017.
Eight Bahrainis are facing death sentences, with two waiting for the Court of Cassation’s final ruling.