Profile in Prosecution: Mohamed Saeed AlHendi

Mohamed Saeed AlHendi, a 36-year-old who worked in IT, was arrested without a warrant during a raid by masked officers at his home. He was then subjected to physical and psychological torture and forced to confess. Mohamed is currently held in Jau Prison Building 7, serving his sentence.

On the 3rd of November 2015, at around 4 a.m., Mohamed’s house in Hamad Town was raided by masked officers in civilian clothing, with 10 civilian and military cars present. The officers searched his home and seized all electronic devices, including two laptops Mohamed was repairing as part of his job. They then arrested him by blindfolding and handcuffing him without presenting a warrant nor stating the reason for the arrest. Mohamed was then placed on a bus and was taken along with the officers who performed several other house raids with him present. Hours later, around 30 to 50 individuals had been arrested, at which point they were all taken to a place that Mohamed later found out to be Building 15 (now Building 7) in Jau prison.

Mohamed called his family 5 days after his arrest and was forced to tell them that he was at the CID. He was only able to call them again a month later in order to request clothes. Between the 3rd of November and the 3rd of December 2015, Mohamed was interrogated and tortured in order to coerce a confession. He would be blindfolded on a daily basis and taken to interrogations at the Royal Academy, where he would be beaten in the bus on the way there and back by officers in civilian clothing. There, he would be forced to stand for around 10 to 12 hours per day without any rest while also being handcuffed behind his back. Upon entering the interrogation room, Mohamed would be beaten by several individuals, who cursed him, screamed at him to confess, and removed his clothes. Officers beat and electrocuted him around his private area. Moreover, he was threatened that if he did not confess, they would bring his wife and assault her in front of him. Mohamed was also threatened that they would arrest his brother and father and charge them. Mohamed was prohibited from sleeping in his cell, with at least 3 officers dressed in civilian clothes always present with him. He was also not allowed to pray or shower.

After around 14 days of torture, Mohamed confessed to communicating with an individual he knew when he was only a child, despite the fact that he denied these allegations. However, the physical and psychological torture intensified the more Mohamed resisted and refused to confess. Mohamed had reached the breaking point and knew that the only way for the torture to end would be if he confessed to the charges. Mohamed signed papers without being allowed to read their contents. On the 27th or 28th of November, Mohamed was taken to the Office of the Public Prosecution (OPP), where the prosecutor told him that if he said one word differently than what was indicated in the papers, he would beat him himself, and would then return him to interrogations to be tortured. Even on his way to the OPP, Mohamed was threatened by the armed officer that he would kill him if Mohamed did not confess. Mohamed’s lawyer was allowed to be present neither during his interrogation nor when he was presented to the OPP.

On 15 May 2018, Mohamed was sentenced to 15 years in prison with his citizenship revoked as part of the Zulfiqar Brigades mass trial. Nevertheless, his citizenship was later reinstated by a Royal Pardon. He was charged with: (1) joining a terrorist organization; (2) undermining the national security of the state; (3) receiving money and explosives and storing and using them in terrorist activities; (4) detonating explosives and providing other members of the organization with weapons, ammunition, explosives, money, and shelter, with the aim of spreading chaos, provoking sedition, and weakening the foundations of the state in order to bring it down; and (4) disrupting the provisions of the constitution and work of state institutions. Furthermore, he was also charged with assisting in training two other defendants in the case to commit a crime of which he knew nothing about. He was accused of being the person responsible for the group’s travels to Iran and their alleged communication with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, as well as their travels to Iraq and their communication with members of the Iraqi Hezbollah to complete military training in their camps.

The Court of Appeal upheld the judgment on the 28th of January 2019. The Court of Cassation likewise upheld the judgment on the 1st of July 2019. It is important to note that Mohamed’s fair trial rights were violated as he was denied access to his lawyer and was not given adequate time and facilities to prepare for the trial. Moreover, the confession that was taken under torture was also used against him in court.

Mohammed’s family has submitted complaints to both the Ombudsman and the National Institute for Human rights. In both cases, there has been no effort by the government to investigate or follow up on his case. This shows how ineffective these institutions are in practice.

The Bahraini authorities’ treatment of Mohamed, from his arbitrary arrest, his physical and psychological torture, and his denial of fair trial rights, are all in contravention of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and constitute violations of Bahrain’s obligations under international treaties, namely the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Therefore, ADHRB calls on the Bahraini authorities to investigate allegations of torture that Mohamed suffered from and hold perpetrators accountable. In addition, ADHRB invites the Bahraini authorities to provide Mohamed with compensation for the torture from which he has suffered. Lastly, ADRHB urges the Bahraini government to overturn Mohamed’s sentence, given the lack of a fair trial and due process rights that constitute a clear violation of human rights.