Thu, May 05, 2011 - Page 6 News List

Hospital staff face Bahraini military court over protests

AFP, DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Bahraini authorities have referred 47 medics to a military court after accusing them of abusing their posts to take part in anti-regime protests that were crushed in March.

The defendants include 24 doctors and 23 nurses, the kingdom’s Information Affairs Authority (IAA) said in a statement late on Tuesday, adding that the military prosecution has already leveled several charges against them.

Authorities set up a military court after King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa declared a state of national safety, a lower level of emergency, a day before security forces crushed a Shiite-dominated month-long protest demanding democratic reforms.

The medics have all worked at the Salmaniya Medical Complex in Manama, which was stormed by security forces after they drove protesters out of the nearby Pearl Square on March 16.

At the time, Bahraini state media accused medics who sympathized with the protesters of occupying the complex and turning it into a protest ground.

The 47 medics have been charged with “refusal to extend assistance to a person in need, embezzlement of public funds, assault, assault that resulted in death, unauthorized possession of weapons and ammunition, refusal to perform duties and putting people’s lives and health at risk,” the IAA said.

They have also been charged with “illegal detention, abuse of authority to suspend and stall laws and regulations, attempts to occupy buildings by force, incitement to the forceful overthrow of a political regime,” it said, adding they were accused of “incitement to hatred of a regime, incitement to hatred of a segment of society and dissemination of false news and malicious rumors that could harm public interest.”

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