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Rights groups denounce Bahrain's trial of 13 political prisoners

Human Rights Watch and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy said a Bahraini court that convicted 13 people in September failed to look into allegations of torture against the defendants.
A Bahraini protester holds his national flag during clashes with riot police following the funeral of 20-year-old prisoner Fadel Abbas Musalem in the village of Diraz, west of the capital Manama, on January 26, 2014. The Gulf kingdom's main Shiite political opposition group said Musalem died the previous day as a result of torture during his detention. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED AL-SHAIKH (Photo by MOHAMMED AL-SHAIKH / AFP) (Photo by MOHAMMED AL-SHAIKH/AFP via Getty Images)

Two rights groups have accused a Bahraini court of sentencing 13 defendants to prison in an unfair trial that failed to look into torture claims.

In a joint report released on Wednesday, Human Rights Watch and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) found that Bahrain’s First Criminal Court failed to investigate allegations of torture against inmates by prison officials during a September mass trial.

“The court, confronted with allegations of torture, did not investigate them, and instead relied on testimony by security forces, some of whom are alleged to have committed the abuses,” the report cited BIRD's advocacy director, Sayed Ahmed al-Wadaei, as saying.

On Sept. 26, the court sentenced 13 political prisoners to prison — 12 to three years and one to a one-year jail term — for causing unrest at a prison and using force against prison guards.

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