Bahrain puts policemen on trial for beating detainees to death

Around 20 policemen have been accused of using torture

DUBAI - A Bahraini court on Wednesday began the trial of two policemen accused of torturing to death two Shiites detained in the wake of the mid-March crackdown on pro-democracy protests, a lawyer said.
The two policemen are accused of "beating to death" Ali al-Saqer and Zakeriya al-Asheeri, said lawyer Mohammed al-Tajer, who is the representing the plaintiff families of the dead men.
Three other policemen are also facing charges of "concealing information about the crime," he said by telephone. The charges were filed by the public prosecution.
The trial of the five Pakistani policemen follows a government pledge to punish those behind torturing detainees, following a damning probe which accused police of using excessive force against protesters.
But Tajer, and the opposition, raised concerns that low-ranking officers were apparently being used as scapegoats to cover up what they claim to be the systematic torture of detainees after the clampdown.
"We want... to bring to trial the security bodies that those policemen worked for, whether that is the national security or the interior ministry," said Tajer.
Al-Wefaq, Bahrain's main Shiite opposition formation, accused the judicial system of helping in "protecting those really responsible for crimes against humanity in Bahrain," dismissing the trial as being a "mock" one.
"Torture is not just systematic. It is now a policy of the state," it said in a statement.
The interior ministry has accused around 20 policemen of using torture against detainees, Tajer said.
The report by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, commissioned by King Hamad, found 35 people were killed in the unrest, including five security personnel and five detainees tortured to death in custody. Hundreds were injured.