The High Court of Appeals ruled today, Tuesday, 4 September 2012 against the defendants in the case of “conspiracy to overthrow the government, espionage and violation of the Constitution”. Sentences were issued against thirteen (13) defendants in their presence. Seven (7) other defendants are wanted fugitives subject to previous sentences and are still at large.
The Court provided all assurances of a fair trial through a team of 17 defense attorneys selected by the defendants. The trial was attended by many diplomats of various nationalities, including representatives of the embassies of the United Kingdom, France, United States, Denmark and Sweden, as well as representatives of human rights and other civil society organizations, including International Crisis Group and Amnesty International, with local and foreign media coverage.
The defendants received full medical care during their incarceration. The Court provided all their health requirements upon their request and at all times.
The Court also accepted the defendants’ request that while on the stand, contrary to what is common practice in most parts of the world, they be allowed to sit by their lawyers’ sides without any restriction on their freedoms.
On the other hand, the attorneys were allowed full access to meet with the defendants before and after the trials. Their meetings were not limited to individual sessions between the two parties only. The Court allowed the attorneys to hold group sessions with the defendants, which is not the common practice. The Court deemed it appropriate to facilitate this aspect in support of the requisites of a fair trial.
Each of the defendants was given the opportunity to speak in their own defense. Some of the defendants spoke at times for over two consecutive hours. Moreover, the defendants read over forty pages in their defense.
Finally, and in accordance with Bahrain’s Code of Criminal Procedure, the defendants are fully entitled to appeal their sentences to the Supreme Court.