0445 GMT: The Bahraini regime, trying to assuage criticism of the lengthy prison sentences imposed by a military court on 20 doctors and nurses last week, announced yesterday that their cases would be heard in a civilian court on 23 October.
Said Baumedouha of Amnesty International played down any political drama in the move, saying that any criminal case tried in the National Safety Court could be appealed in a civilian hearing. He continued, "The only confusion now is when the public prosecutor today said they will have a full retrial."
An EA correspondent in Bahrain, however, offers a fuller analysis and a prediction of how Bahrain's monarchy will try to turn the damage to its reputation into a public-relations victory:
The authorities hope that the international media will be easier on the regime, but they can't admit that the doctors are innocent because it will mean that all the government officials have been lying all the time.
These scenarios have been repeated many times before, so [King] Hamad can show that he's a man of mercy and honour. Innocent people are put in jail, tortured, forced to admit acts they didn't do, and after they are given very harsh sentences, Hamad announces that he forgives them and releases them.
He did it in 2000 when he released all the political prisoners after the 1990s uprising. He did it in 2005 for the "terrorist group that was planning to take over the regime". (That episode started when human rights activist Abdulhadi Alkhawaja --- now sentenced to life in prison --- said in a press conference that all the problems in the country come from Khalifa the Prime Minister: "People are always afraid of mentioning his name directly but I will." He was taken to jail immediately, and when people protested his arrest, they were accused of being terrorists.)
And now 2011 and the 14 February Revolution --- it won't be a surprise if Hamad does it again.
Meanwhile, a document posted by activists set out a list of detainees whose cases have not received international attention --- in the last 12 days, the military court has sentenced 174 people to a total of 2224 years in prison.