Profile in Persecution: Sayed Ahmed Fuad AlAbbar

Sayed Ahmed al-Abbar is a 26-year-old old Bahraini from Karrana who was warrantlessly arrested in 2016 and charged in a terrorism and murder case. He was severely tortured to coerce a confession and was sentenced to death. He is currently on the death row and faces the threat of execution at any moment.

Prior to his arrest, Sayed Ahmed was wanted and pursued by authorities for nearly a year on charges of rioting and burning tires. His house was raided several times for the purpose of his arrest, but he wouldn’t sleep at home as he anticipated night raids. On 24 April 2016, Ahmed was arrested by Ministry of Interior officers including riot police and National Security Agency officers while he was at a farm in the Karrana area along with one of his friends, Husain Ali Mahdi Jasim. He was forcibly disappeared from the time of his arrest until 1:30 A.M. when his family received a call from him in which he stated that he was being detained at the Criminal investigation Directorate building (CID – Adliya). His phone call was cut after this statement, and the next news that his family received from him was a phone call four days later in which he reassured his family asked them to pray for his release. During the call, his voice sounded tired and exhausted.

During his stay at the CID, Sayed Ahmed was severely tortured. He was insulted with obscene words and severely beaten by the security officers, who beat him on his head, face, and private areas. He was subjected to electric shocks in sensitive areas. He was also hit hard on his left ear until it hurt him a lot. Sayed Ahmed stayed for five days at the CID where he was subjected to the worst forms of mistreatment and torture until they forced him to sign more than 12 papers. He was denied legal counsel during the interrogations and when presented to the chief prosecutor. After he signed the confession papers, they took him with the other accused in his case play out the crime scene. They were videotaped for all stages of the re-enactment. He remained under investigation for 16 days, during which time he was placed in solitary confinement, and prohibited from any contact with his family throughout the whole period. As a result of the torture, Sayed Ahmed sustained a permanent injury to his ear, and he requires a wide health examination. He also suffered from injuries due to the presence of shotgun fragments in separate parts of his body, especially in the head and sensitive places, resulting from an attack nearly three years before his arrest.

Due to the violations he endured, his family filed two complaints. The first was related to his defamation in the media, after Sayed Ahmed’s pictures were published in the media before the trial labeling him as the suspect in a murder case. This violates the right of presumption of innocence until proven guilty. However, no follow-up on the complaint occurred. The second complaint was to the Ombudsman due to the torture he endured, especially concerning his ear injury. He was summoned to the prison clinic and examined by the doctor. However, he was threatened not to tell the doctor about the beating he had received on his ear, or else the torture and beating would be intensified. So, he did not tell the doctor about the cause of the pain in the ear.

Sayed Ahmed was charged in two cases. In the first case, he was sentenced on 27 July 2016 to five years in prison, on charges of rioting. As for the second case, he was sentenced to death for burning a police vehicle in Karbabad which led to the death of a police officer. He was charged with premeditated murder, assaulting military officers, illegal assembly, committing crimes, breaching security, possessing explosives, forming and joining a terrorist group, and other charges. He was not given adequate time nor facilities to prepare for the trial, was not permitted to present or challenge the evidence, and was denied access to an attorney. The court of appeal upheld the verdict on 27 February 2018, and subsequently, the Court of Cassation also upheld the death sentence on 21 May 2018. Sayed Ahmed has exhausted all of his legal remedies, and has no right to file for appeal or review. Currently, he is under the threat of execution at any time.

Sayed Ahmed’s warrantless arrest, torture, and unfair trial are a violation of the Convention against torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of punishment (CAT) and the International Convention on civil and political rights (ICCPR), both of which Bahrain is a party to. Therefore, Americans for Democracy and human rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) calls on the Bahraini authorities to respect its human rights obligations and commitments by overturning the death sentence issued against Sayed Ahmed al-Abbar. Moreover, ADHRB calls on authorities to ensure that future trials are in line with the right to a fair and independent trial, and demand investigations into allegations of torture and accountability for the perpetrators, as well as calling for a moratorium on death sentences with a view to their final abolition.