(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - Bahrain rejected on Friday an independent medical report that says a Shi’ite man found dead this year was tortured by electric shock, a finding that counters the Persian Gulf Arab states’s claim to have improved its rights record as democracy protests continue.
It is claimed that Bahrain apparently has been under pressure from Western governments to implement rights and others reforms after it tried to crush the protests last year with martial law and bringing Saudi troops. Activists say five people, all Shi’ites, have died in suspicious circumstances this year. One of them is Yousef Mowali, 23, whose body was found in January by the sea in northern Bahrain two days after he went missing.
The interior ministry said he had not been in police custody and an official autopsy said he died from drowning. But Mowali’s family say they were not happy with the way the authorities handled the case at the time. They say a local police station had acknowledged Mowali’s presence to them, and the body showed signs of abuse when they were allowed to see it.
The family’s lawyer this week handed public prosecutors an independent autopsy carried out by the Denmark-based International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) after Mowali’s body was released for burial in January. It said Mowali was likely unconscious when he drowned and there were signs of abuse, including wounds that lab tests carried out on samples taken to Istanbul suggested were caused by electric torture.
“The idea that the death was the result of unconsciousness due to electrocution is only an assumption and the report did not take into consideration some factors like the presence of prescription medication for schizophrenia,” a statement on the state news agency BNA said on Friday, citing the public prosecution office.
It said the prosecutors want to speak to the Turkish doctor who entered Bahrain in January on a tourist visa to carry out the IRCT report to question her about the findings of a second autopsy which did not have official approval.
“Our concern right now is to understand the discrepancy between these two reports and make sure the truth prevails,” BNA said in its English version of the report, suggesting charges could be pressed for conducting an unlicenced medical exam.
Mowali’s family says he was a quiet and apolitical youth, who suffered from schizophrenia and lived with his family.
“I was hoping for a response that would take the matter more seriously. It’s more of a media and political statement,” the family’s lawyer, Nawaf al-Sayed, said.
“For the family it’s not a game with a winner and loser. They lost their son and would like to see justice.”
Bahrain remains in turmoil with weekly mass protests and clashes between riot police and Shi’ite youths who complain of political and economic marginalisation, charges the government denies.
The ruling Al Khalifa family has so far rejected opposition calls for an elected government. The body of a protester was found dead, riddled with birdshot wounds, on the rooftop of a farm last month, the morning after he was involved in clashes with riot police.