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Britain trained Bahraini army officers during big crackdown

BRITAIN continued to train Bahraini army officers at Sandhurst months after the Gulf state began its brutal crackdown against pro-democracy demonstrators, it was disclosed yesterday.

Five Bahraini officers were receiving tuition at the Elite military academy in Surrey as recently as last month, a Freedom of Information (FoI) request has revealed.

The link emerged as the Ministry of Defence (MoD) was criticised for dispatching army personnel to Saudi Arabia to instruct the national guard in public order techniques and the use of sniper rifles. The force have been deployed to help crush the uprising in Bahrain and impose martial law.

The five most recent Bahraini trainees at Sandhurst included the son of Bahrain's Crown Prince, Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa.

Sandhurst has a long tradition of training military officers from Bahrain, where at least 29 people have died in street fighting since February. The country is ruled by a Sunni royal family, but most of its population is Shia. Most of those killed have been Shias supporting civil rights. Crowd control is included in the training at Sandhurst, but the MoD has emphasised that it is only a tiny part of the course.

The King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, is a Sandhurst graduate. He is also a patron of the Sandhurst Foundation, to which he has donated €70,000 (€88.000).

Nishma Doshi, the campaigner who submitted the FoI request, said: "We invade Libya claiming we're defending protesters, while at the same time training the forces who are murdering protesters in Bahrain."

An MoD spokesman said: "All overseas requests for defence training are considered on a case-by-case basis and it would not be provided if we thought such training would lead to human rights abuses. "(©Independent News Service)

Irish Independent