EXTERNAL AI Index: MDE 11/24/96
23 July 1996
Further information on UA 161/96 (MDE 11/20/96, 1 July 1996) - Death penalty
/ Legal concern
BAHRAIN'Ali Ahmad Abed al-Usfur, aged 31, employee in the agriculture ministry
Yousef Hussein 'Abdelbaki, aged 31, teacher
Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim al-Kattab, aged 30, employee in aluminium company
Attempts to bring the three men named above to the Court of Cassation have
failed and Amnesty International fears that their execution is imminent. The
organization has also received further information confirming that their trial
by the State Security Court fell far short of international standards for fair
Although the State Security Court does not allow for appeal, under Bahraini
law death sentences by ordinary courts are automatically referred to the Court
of Cassation for appeal. However, when the defence lawyers invoked that law
in an attempt to go to the Court of Cassation, the government of Bahrain denied
them that right and strongly indicated that the death sentences could be
Amnesty International has also learned that the defendants' confessions, read
out in court, apparently strongly contradicted one another. The State Security
Court did not take into account these discrepancies, and neither did it require
a cross-examination of the defendants, relying solely on written confessions
they had made during the interrogation. The organization fears that the
defendants may have been convicted on the basis of confessions extracted under
torture. The court has also denied the team of defence lawyers their right
to read the reasons for the judgement.
Amnesty International is also concerned that the trial in camera by the State
Security Court proceeds to a decision at a fast pace which does not allow lawyers
sufficient time to prepare a defence.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases as a violation
of the right to life, and the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman and
degrading treatment or punishment, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights.
On 26 March 1996, the authorities carried out the first execution in Bahrain
for nearly 20 years when Issa Ahmad Hassan Qambar was executed by firing squad.
He had been convicted of murdering a police sergeant.
FURTHER RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/
airmail letters in English, Arabic or your own language:
- expressing deep concern that 'Ali Ahmad Abed al-Usfur, Yousef Hussein
Abdelbaki and Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim al-Kattab have been denied the right to
appeal against their death sentences and urging that the sentences be commuted;
- expressing concern that the trial did not meet internationally recognized
standards for fair trial, and that the convictions may have been based on
confessions extracted under torture;
- explaining your opposition to the death penalty in all cases and all countries
on the grounds that it is a violation of the right to life enshrined in the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and pointing out that there is no evidence
that it deters crime more effectively than other punishments.