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Fri 17 Aug 2012 12:24 PM

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Amnesty slams Bahrain appeal verdict delay

Rights group says postponement of verdict for 13 activists is 'tantamount to denial of justice'

Amnesty slams Bahrain appeal verdict delay
Bahrain has seen near daily protests since the start of the unrest in early 2011

Amnesty International has criticised the postponement of a verdict in the appeal case of 13 Bahraini opposition activists as "tantamount to a denial of justice".

on Tuesday, Bahrain’s High Criminal Court of Appeal postponed to September 4 the final verdict on the appeal of the 13 - all activists and prisoners of conscience convicted on charges related to pro-reform protests last year.

Dr Ghanim Alnajjar, an internationally-recognised human rights expert, who observed the court proceedings on behalf of Amnesty, said: “The decision to postpone the final verdict is unjustified, and is tantamount to a denial of justice.”

Amnesty said it considers the 13 activists to be prisoners of conscience and has repeatedly called on the Bahraini authorities to quash their convictions and release them immediately and unconditionally.

Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa deputy director  added: “The defendants have endured months in detention already.

“But instead of quashing their convictions and releasing them, the Bahraini authorities have resorted to the now-familiar tactic of postponing the hearing and toying with defendants, thus prolonging their ordeal and that of their families.”

The 13, who include prominent activist Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, were originally sentenced by a military court in June 2011 to between two years and life in prison on charges including “setting up terror groups to topple the royal regime and change the constitution”.

All of the men maintain their innocence, Amnesty said.