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Bahrain charges policemen over abuses

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Bahrain's public prosecutor says authorities have charged 15 policemen with mistreating medics during last year's crackdown on opposition protesters.

The charges on Tuesday follow an investigation into police abuses that was recommended last year by an independent commission that studied the Gulf state's Shia Muslim majority's uprising against the Sunni monarchy.

Nawaf Abdullah Hamza did not identify the 15 officers involved and only said that the charges came out of claims "made by 15 medics working at Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC), related to last year's unrest".

The complaints filed by doctors and nurses were among the most sensitive for Bahrain's leadership as it confronts the grievances of the kingdom's majority Shias.

The state-run Salmaniya complex was thrust into the limelight when the kingdom's Sunni monarchy cracked down on Shia-led protests that began in February 2011, and the injured were brought there for treatment.

Authorities say the doctors sided with protesters last year and tried to topple the country's ruling system.

Helping the wounded

The doctors said they were only doing their jobs helping the wounded.

Initially, 20 medical personnel were sentenced to prison terms of between five and 15 years by a now-disbanded security tribunal.

A retrial in civilian court was ordered earlier this year following intense pressure from international rights and medical groups.

The investigative commission's work has led to at least one other case.

It found that three protesters were shot at close range and Bahrain said in June that three police officers would be charged with murder.

Meanwhile, the information affairs authority said a policeman was severely burned Monday when he was attacked with a Molotov cocktail while on foot patrol in a Shia neighbourhood where clashes with anti-government protests routinely take place.


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