Jailed Bahraini doctors win retrial in civil court

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Bahrain's hospitals were the site of clashes between security forces and protesters during the Bahrain uprisings

Bahrain's hospitals were the site of clashes between security forces and protesters during the Bahrain uprisings

Bahrain's Attorney General said on Wednesday that 20 medical staff jailed by a military court last week will be retried before a civil court.

Dr Ali Alboainain announced the move after the Department of Public Prosecutions had studied the judgment rendered by the National Safety Court on September 28.

"The Department has the jurisdiction to do so by virtue of its authority to ensure rightful application of the law," he said in a statement published by state news agency BNA.

"The Department of Public Prosecutions seeks to establish the truth and to enforce the law, while protecting the rights of the accused," the statement added.

It said the accused will have "the benefit of full reevaluation of evidence and full opportunity to present their defence".

The Attorney General added that "no doctors or other medical personnel may be punished by reason of the fulfillment of their humanitarian duties or their political views".

Pending the outcome of the retrials, the accused will not be detained, he said.

Bahrain last week jailed 20 doctors for between five and 15 years on charges including stealing medicine, stockpiling weapons and occupying a hospital during unrest in the Gulf kingdom this year.

The doctors, who denied the charges, were among dozens of medical staff arrested during protests led by the island's Shi'ite majority demanding an end to sectarian discrimination and a greater say in government.

Bahrain's Sunni Muslim rulers quashed the protests in March, with the help of troops from fellow Sunni neighbours Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

At least 30 people were killed, hundreds wounded and more than 1,000 detained, mostly Shi'ites, in the crackdown.

Along with the charges of stealing medicine and stockpiling arms, the 20 physicians were jailed for forcibly occupying a hospital, spreading lies and false news, withholding treatment, inciting hatred of Bahrain's rulers and calling for their overthrow.

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