Hunger striker Abdulhadi Alkhawaja to be retried in civilian court
01 May 2012

Bahrain’s Court of Cassation yesterday ordered a retrial in a civilian court for activist and hunger striker Abdulhadi Alkhawaja and twenty other activists. Alkhawaja was originally sentenced to life in prison by a military tribunal in June 2011 for his involvement in last year’s anti-government protests.

Despite ordering a re-trial, the court decided to keep Alkhawaja and the other activists in custody while their cases are reviewed.

The Bahraini government claim the trial will be revisited as an entirely different case, which falls in line with the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission for Inquiry (BICI) report released last November. According to recommendation 1720, all cases tried by the military court should be re-reviewed by a civilian court.

In a press conference yesterday, Alkhawaja’s wife Khadija al-Moussawi expressed her disappointment that her husband has not been freed. She told reporters that her spouse is being tied to a bed and force fed, even though the activist has been on hunger strike for more than 80 days. al-Moussawi does not believe her husband can get a fair trial saying: “It’s the same system, same court in different clothes, same people running the show”.

Twenty medics jailed for treating injured protesters were also granted retrials despite international pressure on the Kingdom to void their convictions. Said Yousif, of Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) expressed doubt that the 20 can ever find justice.

“The Minister of Justice was involved in charging the doctors before their trials were complete, yet he is a senior official in implementing the BICI report’s recommendations, which is not fair” said Yousif, echoing the words of al-Moussawi.

Wafi al-Majed, Alkhawaja’s son-in-law said the opposition would have positively greeted the development if prisoners were released to await trial. He expressed concern that retrial could “go on for a long time”.

Reports of the activist’s deteriorating health have led many to believe that he is already nearing death, and his continued detention only increases the likelihood that he might die in prison.

Yousif said the continued detention means its hard for the protesters to build faith in the Bahraini government’s claims of reform. “Officials guilty of torture should be held accountable, and political detainees should also be freed. This would shed a positive light on any reform process” he told Index.

Meanwhile, Alkhawaja’s daughter Zainab Alkhawaja who blogs as Angry Arabia, remains in prison after she was arrested on 21 April, while protesting the Bahrain Grand Prix. Information is limited but according to her husband, she faces four charges.

In the past Alkhawaja has been arrested and released but her mother fears that this time her daughter, who she describes as a “headache for the government”, may be kept in prison long-term.


One response to “Hunger striker Abdulhadi Alkhawaja to be retried in civilian court”

  1. […] Bahrain. Zainab al-Khawaja, daughter of imprisoned activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who has been on hunger strike for over three months, was arrested last month after protesting for the release of her father […]