7th APRIL 2015 - Vol.XXXVIII No.018
Local News

Commission head backs death penalty verdict

MANAMA: The death penalty for deliberately crushing to death a Bahraini policeman by repeatedly running him over is a fair ruling, the head of the independent inquiry commission has said.

It was a deliberate and premeditated murder, said Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry chairman Professor Mahmoud Cherif Bassiouni.

The killer first ran over the policeman, then reversed the vehicle and mowed him down again, he told American radio station WBEZ91.5 in a wide-ranging interview.

The brutal killing is a well-documented fact and there are video recordings of it, he said.

Ali Yousif Abdulwahab Al Taweel, 21, was convicted of mowing down Ahmed Rashid Ahmed Al Muraisi by the National Safety Court on September 29.

Prof Bassiouni said medics, who have been jailed for their roles in the illegal siege of Bahrain's main hospital during unrest, did in fact blockade it.

Records show that some doctors occupied Salmaniya Medical Complex to support the protesters, and prevented Sunnis from being treated there, he said.

"They are not angels," the professor said.

The doctors have their political rights but whether to use them as they did was acceptable is another question, he pointed out.

"Some doctors treated those who were at the (GCC) roundabout, and it is true that some of them were injured. But if you have a look at the medical reports you notice that the hospital has the capacity to provide health care for such cases, but the medical team was not qualified for it, therefore, this group of doctors took matters in their hands," Dr Bassiouni said.

Bahrain has since ordered a retrial of the medics and transferred their cases to civilian courts.

Prof Bassiouni, a pre-eminent international law expert, is heading a prestigious independent commission appointed by His Majesty King Hamad in June to study and report on what happened in Bahrain since February and March this year.

He praised His Majesty as a reformist and said it is the first time that such an independent inquiry has been set up in the world to objectively study what happened with the aim of directing future course of action.

The King has also made sure that he is offered all facilities needed to complete his task, Prof Bassouini said.

The commission is really a pioneering enterprise, he said.

He spoke at length with the radio station's Worldview host Jerome McDonnell to discuss the commission's findings and the controversies that have ensued.

Prof Bassiouni said the commission has received 5,200 complaints and interviewed 2,400 people between July 20 and September 20. It is an unprecedented effort unparalleled in the United Nations or any other organisation's history, he said. The commission visited every jail and every prisoner and took into account all the claims, Prof Bassiouni said.

"We brought in four forensic experts, three from the US and one from Egypt. They checked people who alleged they were tortured in prison, or abused, and we have made great efforts in this respect."

Prof Bassiouni praised his panel members, all prestigious human rights personalities and legal experts, for their efforts.

The commission is expected to submit its finding to His Majesty by the month-end. "Frankly, I am proud of the work done by the team," he said. .

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