SHAFAQNA – A lawyer representing prominent Bahraini opposition leader, Sheikh Ali Salman, says the legal system of the country is violating the renowned cleric’s basic right for a fair trial, a sign that the Manama regime is against reconciliation with the opposition parties. Jalila Alsayed said Monday that the court hearing the case has refused to pay attention to the videos of speeches by Salman on which the charges against him were based.
“In a public session the evidence has to be presented, otherwise the trial will lack the bases of fair trial,” said Alsayed, adding that in his speeches, Sheikh Salman strongly rejected violence and any militarizing of the popular movement. “However, we strongly believe that Sheikh Ali never had the intention of calling for the overthrow of the regime by force and never called for violence, because he is not convinced of such an approach,” she added.
Sheikh Salman, who serves as the secretary general of al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, was arrested in December 2014 after Manama accused him of seeking regime change. Sheikh Salman and his party have vehemently rejected the allegation. Alsayed said the court has also rejected the lawyers’ request for questioning one of the main witnesses of the case, who is an investigation officer at Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior.
“The defense panel believes that preventing the witness from being questioned is an attempt to hide the truth… which goes short of Sheikh Ali Salman’s fundamental right to defense,” she said. The Bahraini lawmaker, who is a leading member of the defense panel representing Sheikh Salman in the trial, added that the court has also rejected the lawyers’ request to hear the testimonies of the Head of Public Security who filed the lawsuit against Salman.
“What is happening in court now does not meet the standards of fair trial,” said the lawyer.
Salman charged over Saudi invasion
Bahrain’s prosecutor general on Sunday filed a new lawsuit against Sheikh Salman after he issued a statement condemning Manama’s assistance to the Saudi aggression on Yemen.
Bahrain News Agency quoted Advocate General Wael Boalley as saying that an investigation into a statement by Salman on the issue had been completed. The report said a deputy for Salman has been also questioned over his role in preparing the statement.
The report said the statement has led to new charges against Salman, and he is now accused of “deliberately disseminating lies, spreading rumors and propaganda that may harm the military operations of the armed forces, and defaming foreign countries publicly.”
Salman’s remand has been extended three times and he is expected to go to trial on April 22.
Bahrain has been witnessing almost daily protests against the ruling Al Khalifa regime since early 2011, when an uprising began in the kingdom. Since then, thousands of protesters have held numerous rallies in the streets of Bahrain, calling for the Al Khalifa royal family to relinquish power.
The Manama regime has been severely criticized by human rights groups for its harsh crackdown on anti-government protesters, which has claimed the lives of scores of people so far.