A MEDICAL panel appointed to investigate allegations that 14 inmates were mistreated in custody has been dismissed, following claims it lacked independence.
The men were jailed on charges connected to last year's unrest, including encouraging protesters to wield swords during anti-government demonstrations.
They have appealed against their convictions and a panel of experts was formed to probe claims they were abused in custody.
However, the Supreme Criminal Appeals Court yesterday agreed to disband the panel and adjourned the appeal until May 28 to launch a new medical inquiry.
It followed claims by defence lawyers that the original panel could be biased.
Lawyer Abdulla Al Shamlawi argued the defendants, nine of whom appeared in court, should be acquitted based on a decision by the Cassation Court in another high profile case.
"The Cassation Court sent the case of 21 men jailed in connection with attempts to overthrow the monarchy and having links to a foreign terrorist organisation back to the Supreme Criminal Appeals Court, casting doubt on a verdict issued by the National Safety Court last year," he said
"The defendants in this case should be acquitted of inciting hatred in an attempt to overthrow the regime and be released, after the Cassation Court cast doubt on these charges."
Six of the defendants were previously jailed for 10 years, while eight were given five-year sentences at the National Safety Court.
Other charges included inciting hatred in an attempt to overthrow the regime and change the political system, spreading lies and rumours, publishing photographs seeking to ruin Bahrain's image, illegal gathering and possession of swords during last year's unrest.
It is understood five of the defendants are still at large and were convicted in absentia.
Nine others were earlier cleared of the same charges.
Among the men convicted was Iraqi clergyman Sayed Hadi Ahmed Al Madrasi, currently believed to be in Iran, who is said to have called for Bahrainis to take up arms against the government.