A court in Bahrain has sentenced 23 medical professionals to 3 months in prison each or payment of a fine for involvement in last year's pro-democracy protests, according to the BBC. Prosecutor Abdulrahman al-Sayyed said 5 other medics have been exonerated. The sentences follow the publication of an Amnesty International report which criticized the kingdom for its “spiralling” repression. At least 95 health workers were arrested between February and March 2011, drawing widespread international opposition. According to Mr al-Sayyed, the 23 defendants “committed crimes and violations, breaching the law and [medical] norms”. He also said the medics could choose to pay a fine of 200 dinars (US$530) to have their sentences suspended, and that they had the right to appeal.
The case dates back to February and March 2011, when the medics worked at the Salmaniya Medical Centre in Manama. The hospital treated many who were injured when security forces suppressed pro-democratic protests. Doctors at Salmaniya Medical Centre voiced opposition to the crackdown in interviews with foreign press after treating the injured, or engaged in the protests after shots were fired at ambulances. Physicians for Human Rights claims that at least 95 health workers were arrested after King Hamad declared a state of emergency and brought in military forces from neighbouring Gulf states. The medics and human rights groups say the convictions were politically motivated, and aimed at quashing dissent. ~ BBC News, Nov 21; BMJ, Nov 23
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