A CONVICTED terrorist who escaped from jail during a prison break was simply doing what anyone else would in the same situation, his lawyer has argued in court.
His 22-year-old client was among 10 terrorists broken out of Jaw Prison on January 1 last year.
The High Criminal Court sentenced him to life behind bars and revoked his citizenship earlier this year, after concluding that he was part of a Bahraini terrorist movement involved in a spate of deadly attacks.
“Anyone in my client’s position would do exactly what he did,” claimed lawyer Ali Yahya during an appeal hearing yesterday.
“No-one will remain behind bars during a prison escape because nobody wants to have their freedom restricted.”
His client was among 58 people convicted of being part of a group linked to the Saraya Al Ashtar (Al Ashtar Brigades) terrorist organisation.
Two defendants were sentenced to death in January by the High Criminal Court, which also sentenced 19 defendants to life in jail, 17 defendants to 15 years, nine defendants to 10 years and 11 defendants to five years,
Thirty-three of the defendants, including Mr Yahya’s client, are appealing their verdicts in the Supreme Criminal Appeals Court.
However, during the appeal hearing yesterday Mr Yahya faced the wrath of a fellow defence attorney – whose clients he indirectly accused of murdering a prison guard during the escape.
“The defendants should not have been found guilty of premeditated murder because they did not plan to kill the prison guard,” he said in an apparent attempt to support their case.
“They were only acting in the heat of the moment,”
He was forced to apologise after fellow defence lawyer Fatima Al Hawaj, who is representing several of the defendants, chastised him for speaking on her clients’ behalf.
“Which defendants killed the guard without planning?” Ms Al Hawaj asked Mr Yahya.
“You don’t have the right to talk about other defendants and can only represent your client.”
Meanwhile, defence lawyer Huda Al Shaer – who is representing her own brother – requested his acquittal, arguing their was insufficient evidence to convict him.
Her brother was among defendants sentenced to 10 years in jail.
“My brother’s name was not found in any of the defendants’ mobile phones,” she argued.
“Testimony of defendants who claimed my brother was part of the illicit group cannot be taken into account since they were convicted.
“In addition, my brother’s bosses at work say they cannot find anyone as loyal as him to replace him.”
The court adjourned the appeal until May 13 for a medical examiner to give evidence.
Those convicted were found guilty of establishing and joining a terrorist group, receiving weapons and explosives training to carry out terrorist attacks, murder, premeditated murder as well as importing, using and possessing explosives, firearms and ammunition.
They were implicated in several terrorist attacks including the armed raid on Jaw Prison on January 1 last year, as well as the murder of policeman First Lieutenant Hisham Al Hammadi at his farm in Bilad Al Qadeem on January 28 last year, a Bani Jamra shooting that injured a police officer on January 14 last year, an attempt to smuggle firearms and explosives into Bahrain from Iran and Iraq, as well as the storage of weapons, ammunition and explosives in Sitra.
Some were said to have travelled to Iran and Iraq to receive weapons and explosives training in camps belonging to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hizbollah.