Today a video was leaked that shows a young man called Hussain Jamil Jaffar Ali Marhoon confessing to the police that he was told by clerics Isa Qassim and Ali Salman to go and kill the police (see bottom of blog for video – for English subtitles click captions on YouTube). He also said that he was paid 10BD ($26) a day to do this. In a very bullying tone, the policeman asks a number of questions, with Husain looking more and more uncomfortable with each one. Towards the end of the questioning, the officer asks Husain to confirm that he will tell this same story to the judge, and also asks him, very unsympathetically, to confirm that none of the security forces harmed him. All the while Hussain is topless, looking very distressed with what looks like a cut on his left shoulder.
The Ministry of the Interior announced an investigation into the case on Twitter. An hour later, they said they had suspended the suspects. Presumably they were more angry at this breach of security and the policeman leaking the video than they were at the humiliating treatment of the victim.
Although Husain is topless, and clearly looking distressed, it is, of course, hard to determine what actually happened to him. Unfortunately, the lack of proof could work in the government’s favour, for the inability to prove that the confession was extracted under duress or intimidation will probably make those who toe the government line even more convinced that Shia religious forces are pulling the opposition’s strings.
Having said that, anyone with knowledge of Bahrain will know that forced confessions are the bread and butter of the Bahrain police. Also, the fact the policeman asked the boy to confirm that he would tell this same story in front of the judge is telling. If we look at one of the accounts of torture in the BICI report (Case No 48), the victim mentions how the captors threatened to beat him further if he changed his coerced confession before the judge. Furthermore, if you read through all the accounts of torture in the BICI, most contain a reference to being coerced into signing a confession. Case No 37 was forced to sign a confession saying he had carried out operations for Hezbollah, while Case No. 51 was forced to sign a confession saying he had tried to kill two policemen. Peruse the rest here and see for yourself.
Also, if this evidence is used by the courts and seen as admissible, surely Isa Qassim and Ali Salman will be arrested for inciting violence? If they are not, then is the evidence in its entirety void? Will be interesting to see how MOI handle this. Lastly, in an interesting point raised by activist Sayed Yousif, is this video recorded in the same room as those with CCTV cameras installed following BICI recommendations? Presumably, this interrogation should have been caught on CCTV too…