By Claire Valdini
Three police could face execution for role in unrest killings after charges upgraded to murder
Three Bahraini police officers on trial following the deaths of demonstrators during unrest last year will now face murder charges, authorities have said, meaning they could face the death penalty.
The defendants, who include one police lieutenant, were originally being tried on manslaughter charges following the deaths of three men during separate incidents, according to a statement from the country’s Information Affairs Authority (IAA).
“Murder charges carry a sentence of up to life imprisonment or even the death penalty,” said the IAA. “If convicted of murder, employees of the Ministry of Interior are likely to receive the toughest penalties allowed by law.”
The officers’ trial resumes on July 10.
A Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report said in November that all three victims were shot from close range and confirmed their deaths were the result of excessive force by police.
The report said 35 people died during the Gulf state’s unrest, which began in February 2011 after revolts in Egypt and Tunisia. Five people died due to torture.
Bahrain on Tuesday confirmed it would pay a total of US$2.6m in compensation to 17 families following the deaths during the Arab Spring protests.
“Disbursement of compensation to the families of 17 deceased persons has begun in keeping with the implementation of the recommendations of the BICI,” said an official statement, adding this amounted to US$153,000 per person.