DUBAI- Bahrain, appearing to buckle under international pressure, ordered a retrial yesterday for 20 medical personnel sentenced to prison after they were accused of backing antigovernment protests and attempting to overthrow the ruling system in the kingdom.
The decision also moves the trial of the medical personnel to a civilian court and allows the doctors and nurses to remain free pending the trial.
Rights groups strongly criticized last week’s verdicts by a special security court, which sentenced the doctors and nurses to jail terms ranging from 5 to 15 years. The verdicts also provoked high-level questions about judicial fairness that included statements from the UN secretary general and the US State Department.
Bahrain’s ruling Muslim Sunni monarchy has waged sweeping crackdowns against mostly Shi’ite protesters calling for greater rights on the strategic Arab nation.
Bahraini authorities have come under increasing criticism for a series of rapid-fire verdicts against suspects accused of aiding protesters and causing violence. More than 80 convictions have been issued since Monday by a security court.