The government of Bahrain is pushing the prosecution of the 20 medics who treated injured protestors during last year's uprising, despite King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa claiming that real reforms were rolled out in the wake of international criticism of the nation's handling of protestors.
Following widespread criticism that the medics were being unjustly punished for treating civilians wounded by the government forces, Bahraini authorities had earlier made a statement suggesting that the cases would be dropped.
Justice Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa, however, said on Tuesday that the decision to drop or pursue the case belonged to the court, adding that the medics remain accused until the court acquits them, Reuters reported.
At the end of the day, the last decision will be at the court, the court has to acquit or punish. Until a final judgment, all of them are accused, Justice Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa told a news conference.
Fifteen of the accused would be punished by a professional tribunal if found guilty, while five others would be sentenced by the court, the minister said.
The medics are currently on retrials in a civil court, after a military court sentenced them to jail terms of up to 15 years on charges including anti-government incitement.
Meanwhile, King al-Khalifa claimed on Tuesday that Bahrain made significant progress in reforming its security forces, judiciary, social policy and media since the unrest began in 2011, Reuters reported.
We want our people to feel and see the differences these changes have on their lives, he said at a government ceremony. The challenge of the coming months will be to translate these into tangible, cultural changes.
Human rights groups have alleged that the decision-makers in Bahrain government appear incoherent.
It looks like various people are making decisions in the Bahrain government without an agreed policy. What's happening with the medics smells of incoherence and incompetence, Brian Dooley of the U.S.-based group Human Rights First told Reuters.