EIGHT men have denied attacking a Pakistani muezzin (prayer caller) by cutting his tongue and causing permanent injury. The suspects, including a rogue clergyman on trial in at least 17 cases related to Bahrain's unrest, pleaded not guilty at the Lower National Safety Court yesterday.
The men have also been charged with encouraging harm to others, entering private property without the consent of its owner and stealing money.
Two other suspects are being tried in absentia.
The leading judge narrated the attack, which left muezzin Irfan Ahmed Baksh Muhammad (identified in court as Irfan Muhammad Irfan Ahmed) in critical condition in the BDF Hospital's Intensive Care Unit.
He said the men broke into his Manama home on March 13 and beat him with metal rods and planks before one of them pinned him down and cut part of his tongue.
"Since the incident the hospital is even unable to move the victim from one bed to another due to his condition, which should be described as paralysis," said the judge.
Mr Muhammad, 23, was one of hundreds of Asians attacked in a wave of violence by anti-government protesters, who killed three Bangladeshis and a Pakistani in March.
The labourer was the only breadwinner for his family, including his mother, brother and sisters aged 16 and 19, who live in Mandi Bahalwaldin, in Gujrat, Punjab. However, his condition means he may never work again.
Meanwhile, the court agreed to allow two suspects to be medically examined after claims they had been tortured.
It also pledged to improve the detention conditions of the suspects and all those involved in unrest cases following complaints from defence lawyers that up to nine men were being kept in 2x3-metre cells.
The Military Prosecution declined to make a statement, saying the medical and forensic reports were enough.
Prosecutors objected to a request for the men to be released on bail if they were banned from leaving the country given the serious nature of the crime.
Defence lawyers asked for Prosecution witnesses to be called to give evidence during a hearing next Thursday.
The lawyer of clergyman Shaikh Mohammed Habib Al Saffaf, also known as Al Meqdad, requested the court to unify all the charges against his client. "The defendant is getting sentenced in different cases for the same charge of giving a speech inciting hatred against Asians," he said.
"All charges have to be unified in most cases wherever they match because my client has been getting different verdicts for the same charge," the lawyer added.
Shaikh Mohammed has been accused, alongside 20 other men, of trying to forcibly overthrow the country's monarchy and having links to a foreign terrorist organisation.
He has already been jailed for 20 years by the Lower National Safety Court for his part in the abduction and torture of a policeman.
The victim had been on his way to work when his vehicle was ambushed by nine attackers armed with sickles, metal rods and planks in March.
Shaikh Mohammed is due to appear in court for several other cases in the coming days.
The men accused of attacking Mr Muhammad are Samy Ahmed Ali Makki Moftah, Abdulhadi Ibrahim Khalil Ibrahim, Mohammed Makki Ahmed Makki Toraif, Fadhel Abbas Mohammed Ali Abbas, Mohammed Abdulla Mansoor Hassan, Hussain Ahmed Hussain Ali Ahmed, Shaikh Mohammed and Hassan Mohammed Hassan Juma.
Mohammed Ali Ahmed Ali Marhoon and Aqeel Ahmed Ali Mahfoodh are being tried in absentia.