The trial has been closely monitored by human rights group, in particular because the special court consists of military prosecutors and both military and civilian judges. The convicted nurses and doctors worked at the Salmaniya Medical Center, an institution close to the hotspot of the uprising and mainly run by Shiite personnel. Bahrain is ruled by Sunnis while the majority of the population are Shiites, a fact that has constantly led to conflicts within the society.
The doctors and nurses claim that they have only committed themselves to their oath to treat all wounded persons no matter what religious group they belong to. They also believe that their sentences are connected to the fact that they were witnesses to the brutal treatment by security forces. An appeal to the highest civilian court is in progress but unlikely to rule in favour of the group.
A spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reported that the UN chief is deeply concerned over the harsh sentences and called for the release of all political detainees. Lately, the government appeared to be willing to introduce reforms and to propose changes but nothing substantive has been reached so far. An independent commission to look into torture allegations and excessive violence has been set up which is expected to publish its report at the end of the month.