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Prosecutors seek to overturn acquittal in Ali Salman conspiracy case

Bahrain News
Thu, 06 Sep 2018
By NOOR ZAHRA


PROSECUTORS  seek to overturn the acquittal of three opposition figures accused of conspiring with Qatar.

The appeal was filed by the Public Prosecution at the Supreme Criminal Appeals Court, which convened yesterday for the opening remarks.

Shaikh Ali Salman, former secretary general of the dissolved Al Wefaq National Islamic Society, and two former Al Wefaq MPs – Hassan Ali Sultan and Ali Al Aswad – were accused of spying on behalf of a foreign country.

They were found not guilty by the High Criminal Court in June, but Attorney General Osama Al Oufi said he believed there was sufficient evidence to overturn their acquittal.

He also said there were “several faults” in the verdict.

Shaikh Salman was present at yesterday’s hearing and he stood behind a glass partition because he is serving a four-year sentence for inciting others to break the law.

Mr Al Oufi argued in court that crucial evidence, including recordings of phone calls between the defendants and Qatari officials, along with witness testimonies were overlooked.

Mr Al Oufi," We request for all the defendants to be found guilty of the charges."

“The defendants were acquitted in this case despite the Public Prosecution submitting crucial evidence including recordings of phone calls between the defendants and Qatari officials, in addition to witnesses giving evidence against the defendants.

“This proves that the defendants conspired with those foreign officials to support violence and chaos since the unrest in 2011.

“They did this in an attempt to halt national efforts targeting these disruptive acts.”

Judges adjourned the appeal hearing until September 26 for review. 

Shaikh Salman is scheduled to be released from prison in December after completing a four-year sentence for inciting others to break the law and spreading sectarianism.

His two co-defendants were tried in absentia and they failed to attend yesterday’s appeal hearing. Police previously told judges that both men were living abroad.

The decision to appeal was taken despite pressure from the US government to accept the not guilty verdict, with US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert previously welcoming the ruling.

However, Mr Al Oufi said at the time that the Public Prosecution would not allow foreign interference to influence its decisions.

The conspiracy charges were filed after phone conversations dating back to 2011 between Qatari officials and senior members of Al Wefaq came to light on August 16 last year, when they were broadcast by Bahrain Television.

Topple

They included recordings of conversations between Shaikh Salman and former Qatari Prime Minister Shaikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani.

A police officer previously told the court that Shaikh Salman ordered his co-defendants to meet officials from Qatar and Hizbollah, the Iranian-backed movement in Lebanon, to share state secrets.

Another witness said Qatar had been trying to topple the Bahraini government since 1995.

noorz@gdn.com.bh

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