Tuesday Mar 13, 201204:25 PM GMT
BICI: Bahrain releases 137 detainees
Mattar Mattar, a former lawmaker of Bahrain's al-Wefaq opposition, embraces a relative outside his home in Daih, Bahrain after being released from prison August 7, 2011.
Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:53AM
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Bahrain's Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) says 137 detainees of anti-regime protests have been released from prisons and will go to trial in civilian courts.

The detainees were previously awaiting trial before the military courts, but their cases were transferred to civilian courts following a royal decree and the request of BICI, AFP reported on Tuesday.

“We are immensely pleased that these detainees have been released... They can now enjoy the holy month of Ramadan with their families," BICI chairman Mahmud Sherif Bassiouni said in a statement.

The BICI, which is tasked with investigating the Persian Gulf island's military crackdown on protesters, has visited Bahrain's detention centers and hospitals.

“The investigative teams have made a number of visits to prisons, detention centers and police stations, and hospitals, many of which have been unannounced,” Bassiouni said.

"They have recorded and collected the testimonies of all the prisoners with whom they've met, as well as their families, including documenting reports of cases of mistreatment and torture," he added.

Two of the released detainees are former lawmakers, Mattar Mattar and Jawad Fairuz, members of the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society.

The two lawmakers were arrested in May after resigning from parliament in protest of the regime's Saudi-backed brutal crackdown on demonstrators.

The majority of detained doctors and medics, accused of giving medical treatment to injured protesters, are among those released. However, still 14 of them remain in custody.

“We are continuing our investigation of reports of mistreatment and torture, and we will soon have a team of forensic medical experts from outside the country come in to look at all individuals who have complained of physical mistreatment and torture,” BICI chairman concluded.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have severely criticized the Persian Gulf sheikhdom for its brutal crackdown on civilians, doctors, nurses, lawyers and journalists who have voiced support for the protest movement.

Thousands of anti-government protesters have been staging rallies in Bahrain since mid-February, demanding an end to the Al Khalifa dynasty, which has ruled the country for more than 40 years.

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