DUBAI (Reuters) – The family of a death row Bahraini activist were allowed physical contact with Mohammed Ramadhan for the first time in years during a prison visit this week, his wife said, while adding that she believed he was not receiving proper medical treatment.
The family were among those who called on Pope Francis ahead of his visit to Bahrain last week to speak out against capital punishment, which he did while insisting on human rights.
Ramadhan’s wife, Zainab Ebrahim, who visited Jau prison on Monday with their three children, said she did not know why they received a “special visit”.
“It’s been years since we’ve been able to touch it,” she told Reuters, adding that they were usually separated by a glass barrier.
“The kids ran up to him as soon as they saw him and they were crying and screaming and hugging him.”
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A government spokesman, in response to a question from Reuters, said inmate visits “may include private and exceptional visits without glass or physical barriers”.
Ramadhan and another man, Husain Moosa, were sentenced to death in 2014 for bombing a convoy and killing a policeman in what rights groups say were convictions based on confessions extracted under torture.
Bahrain’s highest court upheld the sentences in 2020.
Last year, a United Nations human rights watchdog called on Bahrain to release and compensate the two men, saying they were being arbitrarily detained.
The UN panel said it considered the two men to have been detained because of their political opinion, for participating in pro-democracy protests.
Bahrain, which crushed an anti-government uprising in 2011, rejected the report, saying the trials and appeals met all the requirements for a fair trial.
Ramadhan’s wife said his requests to visit the outpatient hospital for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for a lump in his neck were not granted, although he was taken to the clinic in the prison.
She said the lump was discovered about four months ago.
The government spokesman said: “The standard process before any scan, invasive diagnosis or treatment is for a patient to be seen and assessed by a medical professional.”
The spokesperson said Ramadan had refused to go to a medical appointment on October 19 and that another was scheduled but “has not yet taken place”.
(Reporting by Ghaida Ghantous; Editing by Robert Birsel)
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