A LAWYER representing relatives of a man allegedly tortured to death in custody last April have welcomed a decision to refer the case back to prosecutors for further investigation.
Judges at the High Criminal Court ruled that prosecutors had failed to follow proper procedures before transferring the case to court.
The defence team representing two National Security Agency (NSA) agents accused of causing the death of Abdulkarim Fakhrawi, 49, had hoped the court would acquit their clients as a result of the findings.
However, judges yesterday referred the case back to the Public Prosecution - sparking hope that the two suspects could actually face more serious charges.
They were standing trial for manslaughter, but lawyer Mohammed Al Tajer - acting on behalf of Mr Fakhrawi's relatives - said he hoped they would now be charged with causing death through torture.
"Now more witnesses will get a chance to testify at the Public Prosecution and the case will be investigated properly before sending it to court again," he told the GDN yesterday.
"This also means the charges could be changed to causing death by torture, which would be in our favour."
The case was originally being tried in the National Safety Court, but was transferred to the civilian courts as part of government efforts to implement recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI).
This is the second case to be referred back to the Public Prosecution for further investigation and follows a similar decision in the trial of two policeman accused of killing two anti-government protesters in custody during last year's unrest.
Mr Fakhrawi, 49, died at the BDF Hospital on April 11 due to injuries he suffered in NSA custody, according to the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report.
The two intelligence agents, aged 29 and 22, charged in connection with his death will now be subject to further investigation.
"The Public Prosecution relied on investigations earlier done by the Interior Ministry's legal affairs department and did not investigate the case itself before sending it to court, which is void," said a judge yesterday.
Neither officer, both of whom pleaded not guilty, were present in court for the decision.
They earlier claimed they were attacked by Mr Fakhrawi, alleging he repeatedly hit them with a toilet seat causing them chest and head injuries.
A 27-year-old lieutenant who appeared as a witness testified that he saw the two defendants and the victim fighting in a detention centre.
The BICI report documents the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr Fakhrawi, a businessman who is said to have founded Bahrain's first educational bookstore before expanding it into a publishing house and acting as the main supplier of books to Bahrain University.
He was also a founder of opposition newspaper Al Wasat and owned the construction company that built the Iraqi Embassy in Bahrain.
The BICI report said he had gone to a police station on April 3 after police surrounded his relative's home in Karbabad the night before while he was there, but his family did not know what had happened to him until they were informed on April 12 that he was dead.
It said the NSA officers accused of killing Mr Fakhrawi initially denied they were attacked by him, but later changed their statements.
"The NSA investigation states that following the incident, the deceased complained of stomach pains," says the BICI report.
"The deceased was initially admitted to the NSA Hospital where preliminary examinations were performed.
"The medical records were verified by an NSA doctor, who stated that the detainee suffered both kidney failure and heart failure.
"The kidney failure resulted from muscle tears and blood poisoning following the injuries that the deceased had sustained in prison.
"However, the kidney problem could have been resolved had the deceased received correct medical attention, including kidney dialysis."
The BICI states that Mr Fakhrawi died as a result of torture.
"The commission concludes that the death of Mr Fakhrawi is attributed to torture while in the custody of the NSA," it says.
It adds the NSA had "failed to conduct an effective investigation into Mr Fakhrawi's death".