The High Criminal Court of Appeal has today (Thursday) heard the case of Nabeel Rajab. Rajab’s three separate cases of incitement and illegal assembly have been consolidated into one appeal. The next hearing is scheduled for 16 October 2012.
Rajab was sentenced to three years in prison in three different cases on 16 August 2012 for participating in and inciting illegal assemblies and organizing, through social media websites among other means, unlicensed demonstrations at busy commercial areas in the capital, Manama.
The charges brought relate to three separate and specific incidents that took place earlier this year on January 12th, February 14th, and March 31st. These specific incidents are reported to have caused riots, roadblocks, fires, and destruction of public and private property.
The Public Prosecution alleged that Rajab’s incitement and direct participation in these marches and the provocation of his supporters has led to extreme acts of violence and breaking the law that have compromised public order and the safety of citizens through rioting, the use of petrol bombs, IEDs, along with other improvised weapons, against public and private property.
“The government acknowledges and guarantees everyone’s right to disagree with, or dissent from, the Government, and to state those views and opinions publicly. However, the distinction between lawful peaceful protests and acts that fall outside the scope of legitimate expression must not be overlooked. Riotous behavior, illegal and violent conducts and unprovoked attacks on police officers fall outside the scope of legitimate expression,” an official statement said.
“It is important to note that in the months of June, July, and August of this year, 91 police personnel suffered injuries requiring hospitalization, of which 52 of them received life changing injuries that were severe enough to render them invalid. Furthermore, there were 7,356 instances of tire-burning, 1,470 reported acts of vandalism in addition to repeated attempts to obstruct main roads and traffic, causing a direct negative impact on economic and commercial activity in areas of the capital that have prompted proprietors and businesses owners to request intervention from the Ministry of Interior to protect their interests and immediate safety,” the statement added.