x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Bahrain policewoman denies torturing female journalist

A Bahrain policewoman pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges of torturing a female journalist during last year's anti-government protests.

MANAMA // A Bahrain policewoman pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges of torturing a female journalist during last year's anti-government protests.

The officer, Lieutenant Sara Al Musa, denied torturing Nazeeha Saeed, who is the Bahrain correspondent of France 24 and Radio Monte Carlo Doualiya, and was not in court.

The hearing was adjourned to June 24 for further deliberation.

Ms Al Musa is accused of torturing Ms Saeed while the journalist was in custody on May 22 last year.

The prosecution said last month that it had referred the case to the "high criminal court because the defendant is a public servant in the ministry of interior and has used force against the victim to make her confess to a crime".

"She beat her and caused her the harm described in a medical report," a prosecution statement said.

The officer was charged with "attacking the body" of Ms Saeed, by "slapping her, beating her with plastic tubing, kicking her in all parts of her body, in addition to insulting her", the statement said.

Ms Saeed, who reported on last year's repression of Shiite-led pro-democracy demonstrations, was summoned by police on May 22 last year, said the media watchdog Reporters Without Borders. She said she was badly beaten and humiliated by several policewomen after she was accused of lying in her reports.

Ms Saeed was released after midnight, and just days later the interior ministry announced proceedings against those accused of mistreating her.

An international investigation commissioned by Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, accused the police of using excessive force and torture to contain the demonstrations.

Amnesty International has estimated that 60 people were killed since the protests began.