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Probe report to go online

FINDINGS of a major probe into what happened during Bahrain's unrest are expected to be published online at 5pm today. The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) is due to submit its report to His Majesty King Hamad during a ceremony at 3pm in the Ceremonial Hall at Zallaq.

It will be handed over by BICI head Professor Mahmoud Cherif Bassiouni, the former chairman of a United Nations fact-finding mission to Libya.

"The report will be printed in December and there is only one copy that will be submitted to His Majesty," said a commission spokeswoman.

"The report in its entirety submitted to the leadership will be uploaded on the website."

The spokeswoman added the bilingual report, in Arabic and English, would be uploaded onto the BICI website (www.bici.org.bh) shortly after the ceremony finished.

More than 60 foreign journalists will cover the unveiling of the landmark report, along with local and international human rights groups, non-governmental organisations, political societies and community leaders.

The ceremony will feature speeches by the King and Mr Bassiouni, which will be aired on Bahrain TV.

"There will be more than 30 members from the commission who will attend the report launch ceremony," said the spokeswoman.

Prof Bassiouni will be accompanied by four BICI commissioners - former International Criminal Court president Judge Phillipe Kirsch, former UN special rapporteur on human rights Sir Nigel Rodley, international legal expert Dr Mahnoush Arsanjani and Sharia (Islamic law) specialist Dr Badria Al Awadhi.

The spokeswoman said the contents of the report were strictly confidential and denied parts had been leaked onto social networking websites.

"It is a long report and will be kept confidential until its release," she said.

Human rights violators are expected to be named in the document, which has taken almost five months to prepare.

BICI investigators started their work on July 24 and have put together information using testimony from Bahrainis and expatriates, as well as observations from political activists, civil society organisations and government agencies.

Evidence

It was initially due to be presented to the King on October 31, but the deadline was pushed back to November 23 to allow the BICI to continue collecting evidence as it was still collecting information from ministries and government agencies.

The BICI last month said all physical documents relating to the investigation would be destroyed, but a digital file would be held by the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, the Netherlands, for 10 years.

The commission has received around 9,000 written complaints from citizens and residents, who claimed to be victims of human rights violations.

More than 5,000 interviews were also conducted.

The government yesterday pledged to act decisively on the findings and introduce reforms that would benefit the whole country.

A Cabinet statement said it expected the document to be "very critical" of the behaviour of some government employees.

It also revealed that 846 policemen had been injured and four killed since the start of the unrest in February.

A special fund has been set up to compensate victims of the violent events of February-March.

The commission was asked to provide a complete narrative of the events, describe any acts of violence that occurred and the parties involved.

It has investigated instances of alleged police brutality and violence by anti-government protesters.

The commission was funded by the Royal Court and was set up on June 29 by the King.

sandy@gdn.com.bh



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