Thursday, 2 February 2012

#Canadian citizen Naser Al Raas tortured in prison rearrested by #Bahrain authorities

Originally posted by UNCUT - Free Speech on the Front Line (February 1, 2012)

Written by Sara Yasin 

Canadian Naser Al Raas was arrested and detained today after he attended a court due to hear his appeal against his five-year prison sentence. The 29 year-old IT-specialist had been in hiding since being sentenced on 25 October 2011, he feared returning to prison after he was tortured while in pre-trial detention.

Al Raas was arrested and tortured for participating in protests in February and March 2011, when thosands of Bahrani’s took to the streets. He was charged with spreading false news and inciting hatred against the regime.

Despite the Bahrain authorities frequently detaining people who attend court appointments, Al Raas’s fiancé Zainab told Index that her fiance felt safe to attend court for the first time after Canadian officials had condemned his sentence. On 26 January, the Canadian government called for Al Raas’s case to be “resolved expeditiously, particularly in view of Mr. AlRaas’ grave health concerns.” AlRaas has a serious heart condition, and his physician claim’s imprisoning his patient’s would place his life “in jeopardy”. AlRaas needs regular medication, and is susceptible to haemorrhages when he is injured. After his release on bail after 31 days in prison,  AlRaas claimed prison officials repeatedly beat him on the chest which is scarred from two open-heart procedures.

The judge has allowed a request to allow Al Raas to see a cardiologist. Al Raas is now being held at Jaw prison, where a number of imprisoned activists are on hunger strike. Fourteen activist are on a one-week hunger strike protesting the Bahrani states vicious crackdown on activists and its continued detention of prisoners of conscience. Al Raas told his fiancee that if he was imprisoned he would join the prisoner’s action, many members of the Bahraini opposition have also joined the hunger strike in solidarity.

Al Raas’s appeal hearing has been postponed until 16 February. His lawyer told Index that he was “optimistic” about the appeal hearing, and he also he said that he pressed the judge for an earlier court date.

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