Commenting on the sentences handed down yesterday to medical staff in Bahrain, Federal Government Human Rights Commissioner Markus Löning issued the following statement in Berlin today (15 June):
I am pleased that nine doctors and nurses were acquitted. However, I hoped that all those convicted would be exonerated.
I call on King Hamad to exercise his power of pardon and release the other doctors and all those imprisoned for making use of their right to express their opinions freely.
The ongoing crisis in Bahrain can only be resolved if a political dialogue is initiated swiftly between Government and Opposition. The lack of trust on both sides and the ongoing violence have made this impossible so far. Yesterday’s convictions have done nothing to close the divide.
In February, a special military tribunal handed down long prison sentences to 20 doctors and nurses from Salmaniya medical centre in connection with the political protests in Bahrainin spring 2011. They were accused of unauthorized possession of firearms and incitement to violently overthrow the regime. Yesterday a civilian court issued its ruling on their appeals. Four doctors were sentenced to imprisonment of between one and five years, while five more were sentenced to up to six months’ imprisonment.