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Prosecutors urge death penalty for Ali Salman

Bahrain News
Fri, 09 Mar 2018
Noor Zahra

PROSECUTORS have demanded the maximum punishment, the death penalty, for a former opposition leader accused of conspiring with Qatar.

Ali Salman, the secretary general of the now-dissolved Al Wefaq National Islamic Society, is accused of receiving money in exchange for revealing state and military secrets, including information about GCC forces in Bahrain.

He is on trial at the High Criminal Court along with two former Al Wefaq MPs Hassan Ali Sultan and Ali Al Aswad.

The case is connected to phone conversations dating back to 2011 between senior members of Al Wefaq – which was dissolved in 2016 for inciting terrorism and promoting a coup – and Qatari officials.

Investigations carried out by the police showed Mr Salman ordering the two former Al Wefaq MPs to conspire with Qatari and Hizbollah officials.

However, the GDN previously reported that Qatar began plotting to overthrow Bahrain’s government back in 1995, according to prosecution witnesses.

Officials from the neighbouring Gulf country allegedly met key members of Al Wefaq National Islamic Society years before unrest broke out in Bahrain in 2011.

Mr Salman attended yesterday’s court hearing, where he sat behind a glass partition, as Public Prosecution Attorney General Osama Al Oufi presented his closing arguments requesting the maximum punishment for the defendants, who he labelled as “traitors”.

“The defendants conspired against their country with axes of evil,” said Mr Al Oufi as he read the Public Prosecution’s statement from a 16-page document.

“They were tricked into believing that they are leaders and those who they conspired with sat them at their majlis, but from inside they mocked them, looked down at them and only used them as a tool and servants to reach their destructive plans.

“They used them until their roles were over and then left them worthless.

“Investigations and prosecution witnesses proved that the defendants conspired with Qatari officials in an attempt to overthrow the Bahraini government since the unrest in 2011.

“(Ali Salman) held phone conversations with (the then) Qatari Prime Minister Shaikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani.

“The phone conversations were obtained following a judicial warrant on March 2 in 2011.

“The defendants co-ordinated with the Qataris to use the unrest in 2011 and cripple any efforts in bringing back order in the country.

“(Ali Salman) agreed with the former Qatari prime minister that Qatar will attempt to stop the GCC Peninsula Shield Force from entering Bahrain and solving the crisis.

“This phone conversation showed that all three defendants have been conspiring with Qatar since the get-go.

“Hassan Sultan also held a phone conversation with Qatari adviser Hamad bin Khalifa Al Attiya.

“They agreed to co-ordinate to use Al Jazeera Media Network to air stories aimed at presenting falsified news and destabilising the security in Bahrain, which was monitored personally by Ali Salman.

“Ali Salman also gave his co-defendants messages to transfer to Qatari authorities which contained classified information containing military and security secrets about the BDF, National Guard and police.”

Mr Al Oufi said investigations proved that Qatar attempted to transfer the Arab Spring to Bahrain with the help of the defendants in an attempt to overthrow the government.

Sectarianism

“Qatar attempted to spread sectarianism and called for protests to help reach its destructive goals in the region,” he added.

“The traitors conspired with Qatar to destroy the country.

“A prosecution witness said that the Qataris supported the Arab Spring in countries like Egypt and Tunisia and used the Muslim Brotherhood and attempted to carry out the same plot with these traitors who were members of the now-dissolved Al Wefaq in Bahrain.

“The defendants also accepted large sums of cash in attempt to carry out their failed plot and went to Qatar between 2010 and 2012.

“Ali Salman also said that he was going to seek intervention from Iran, which shows his lack of loyalty and (the depth of) conspiracy with Iran and Qatar.

“Therefore, the Public Prosecution requests the maximum punishments for the defendants.”

The maximum punishment for the charges set against the defendants is the death penalty.

Defence lawyers, meanwhile, requested to submit their final arguments along with video footage of Mr Salman being interviewed on television programmes.

They also submitted a request to summon former Qatari Prime Minister Shaikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani to give evidence in court along with former US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman.

Judges did not respond to the request and adjourned the trial to March 22 for the defence team to submit their evidence.

Mr Sultan and Mr Al Aswad once again failed to attend yesterday’s hearing and are being tried in absentia. Police previously told the court that both men were living abroad.

Mr Salman is already serving a four-year jail sentence at Jaw Prison, after being convicted in 2014 of inciting others to break the law and spreading sectarianism.

noorz@gdn.com.bh