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Doctor who treated Bahrain riot victims says she was tortured


Summary of story from The Daily Mail, October 3, 2011

A female doctor who treated the injured as they were brought to hospital during riots which have engulfed Bahrain says she was tortured and sexually assaulted at a secret interrogation centre until she confessed to her “crimes”.

Dr Fatima Haji was dragged out of her house at midnight by 30 plain-clothes police officers brandishing guns.

And she was kept in solitary confinement for a further 22 days before being released on bail.

The 33-year-old, who has a three-year-old son, Yusef, has now been sentenced to five years in jail and waits in fear for government forces to drag her away at any moment.

“I don’t know how many men there were as I was blindfolded, but I heard many voices. They said they would rape me,” she said.

“They told me they knew which nursery Yusuf was in, and would get him. That’s when I broke and said I’d do anything they wanted.”

Dr Haji was one of 20 doctors and nurses sentenced to jail terms of between five and 15 years at a special military tribunal on Friday.

They were accused of conspiring to overthrow the monarchy by supporting the anti-government protests that broke out earlier this year.

The medics were accused of using ambulances to transport protesters and ammunition. Dr Haji herself was accused of stealing blood bags to give to the protesters who used them to fake injuries.

She claims the court refused to send for witnesses the defendants had requested, so some turned up of their own free will and demanded to be heard. Even then, the judge directed the lawyers to ask certain questions only.

Dr Haji is on bail as she appeals her sentence, but the authorities can put her in jail any time and insist that she challenges her sentence from prison.

The Bahraini government said it has firm evidence against the 20 people sentenced on Friday.  An official at the country’s embassy in London said suspects in custody in Bahrain were not tortured.

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