Bahrain sets up judicial panel to review protest verdicts

35 people were killed in last year’s unrest

DUBAI - Bahrain said Monday it is setting up a judicial panel to review verdicts initially not subject to appeal after being issued by a semi-military court over involvement in anti-government protests.
The panel is being established in accordance with the recommendations of a king-commissioned independent probe which slammed authorities for using excessive force in the mid-March crackdown on Shiite-led protests.
The deputy head of the supreme judicial council, Sheikh Khalifa bin Rashid Al-Khalifa, said the panel would review the verdicts "in terms of applying international principles of fair trials, including the right to have a lawyer and proof verification," according to a government statement.
It would also review convictions in cases "linked to the freedom of expression which did not involve incitement to violence," the statement added.
The convictions were issued by the National Safety Court, set up under a three-month state of national safety declared by King Hamad in mid-March, paving the way for security forces to quell the protest.
The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry denounced the "excessive and unjustified use of force" by the authorities in its report released in November.
It said 35 people were killed in the unrest, including five security personnel, and five detainees who were tortured to death while in custody. Hundreds were also injured.