Bahrain jails Irish-trained medic


A Bahrain appeals court convicted nine medics today for their role in last year's pro-democracy uprising, and acquitted nine others, in a controversial case that has drawn international criticism.

A military court sentenced the 20 medics, who are all Shia, in September to terms of between five and 15 years on charges including theft of medical equipment, occupying a hospital and incitement to topple the state.

The court gave Ali al-Ekry, an Irish-trained senior orthopaedic surgeon who worked at the Salmaniya hospital in Manama, a five-year sentence and Ibrahim al-Dimistani three years.  Seven others were handed sentences ranging from one month to one year.

The verdicts follow an earlier trial in a separate court, which also gave jail terms of 15 years to two medics not involved in today's proceedings. Those defendants are believed to have left the country or gone into hiding.

"This is an unjust ruling, they are innocent. They should be trying the authorities, not these doctors," said Tewfik Dhaif (53) uncle of two of men who were sentenced today.

"These are the elite doctors in this country. We have 15 doctors in my family, most of the people they have treated were Al Khalifa's," he said, referring to Bahrain's ruling family.

The Sunni Al Khalifa family crushed a protest movement led by members of the Shia majority that erupted last year after revolts in Egypt and Tunisia, arresting thousands and instituting military trials during a period of martial law.

The doctors, who were released last year after an outcry over allegations of torture while in detention, were not present during the brief court session.