AP: Bahraini doctors on trial over role in protests
Dozens of doctors and nurses who treated injured anti-government protesters during the months of unrest in Bahrain are on trial just days after the Gulf kingdom lifted emergency rule.
The 23 doctors and 24 nurses were charged with participating in attempts to topple Bahrain's Sunni monarchy. They were arraigned Monday during a closed-door hearing in a special security court.
Authorities lifted emergency law Wednesday and warned opposition supporters that any further challenges to the regime will have "consequences."
Al-Jazeera: Bahraini doctors and nurses charged
Scores of Bahraini doctors and nurses who treated injured anti-government protesters have been charged with attempting to topple the kingdom's monarchy.
The 23 doctors and 24 nurses were formally charged on Monday during a closed door hearing in a special security court.
The 47 accused have been in detention since March, when the country declared martial law in order to clamp down on a wave of demonstrations that swept the tiny kingdom earlier this year.
Though the emergency law was lifted last week, Bahraini authorities have warned opposition activists of "consequences" in case of any further challenges to the government.
CNN: Medics' trial in Bahrain postponed until next week
The trial of more than three dozen medical professionals, scheduled to begin Monday, has been postponed until next week.
The 47 people -- 24 doctor, and 23 nurses and paramedics -- are on trial for their role in the anti-government protests that have roiled the country.
The justice ministry said the accused are charged with crimes that include incitement to overthrow the regime, deadly assault and refusal to help persons in need.
But activists and human rights groups have alleged that the medical personnel are being prosecuted for treating protestors.
On Monday, the military court judge rescheduled the hearing for June 13 to allow the defendants more time to consult with their lawyers, according to someone who was in court.
The person did not want to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
Protests swept the strategically important island kingdom earlier this year as populations across the Arab world rose up against their rulers.
Bahrain, where the United States Navy's Fifth Fleet anchors, is a small, predominantly Shiite country governed by a Sunni royal family.
Since the beginning of the turmoil in Bahrain, about 30 people have been killed, according to figures from the government, opposition figures and human rights groups. Opposition and human rights groups say more than 1,000 have been detained.
During the protests, witnesses say security forces in Bahrain stormed the main hospital, the Salmaniya Medical Complex in the capital Manama, beating doctors and demonstrators.
"We found doctors were simply providing ethical and life-saving medical care to patients whom Bahraini security forces had shot, detained and tortured," said Richard Sollom, deputy director of Physicians for Human Rights.
"We documented a systematic attack on medical staff in Bahrain including the beatings, torture and disappearances of more than 30 physicians," Sollom said.
Physicians for Human Rights, a group that shared the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to ban landmines, says it sent investigators to the gulf kingdom and interviewed 45 patients, doctors, nurses and witnesses.
The report details attacks on "physicians, medical staff, patients and unarmed civilians with the use of bird shot, physical beatings, rubber bullets, tear gas and unidentified chemical agents," the group said in an April report.
Its report echoes those released earlier by Human Rights Watch and Doctors Without Borders.
Bahraini officials denied the allegations.
The country's ambassador to the United States, Houda Noono, said police had to take action to secure the hospital.
Prior to that, she said, the Salmaniya Medical Complex "was used as a coordination center by protesters and had been overrun by political and sectarian activity, severely interrupting services and endangering lives."
"During this period, patients were refused treatment on the basis of their sect or ethnicity and emergency calls were neglected," Nonoo added. "The hospital grounds were barricaded and Salmaniya was very clearly no longer a neutral, medical establishment. As a result, the action to secure the hospital was both unavoidable and necessary."