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A video allegedly showing a forced confession from a young, highly distressed Bahraini man has gone viral on YouTube, triggering controversy about the use of torture by authorities in the tiny Gulf island.
The footage, uploaded by Bahrain's security officer Abdulrahman Al Mannai, depicts the interrogation on a young man called Hussain Jamil Jaffar Ali Marhoon, from Hamad Town.
The young man confesses to police that he was instructed by two top Shia clerics, Sheikh Issa Qassim and Sheikh Ali Salman, to kill officers for 10 BD (£16) a day.
The policeman also asks whether the prisoner had been abused by the police. Ali Marhoon, looking distressed, says his injuries were the consequence of a "fall."
The video was taken down by the officer after it went viral but a copy was obtained by Bahraini pro-democracy activists. It could not be independently verified.
Bahrain's Ministry of Interior tweeted that they had launched an investigation on the incident and that those responsible had been suspended.
Chief of Public Security: immediate investigation launched on circulated video on confession of detainee on being incited to kill policemen
— Ministry of Interior (@moi_bahrain) June 11, 2013
According to human rights experts, the confession was obtained through torture and/or ill treatment.
"The YouTube video is very disturbing as it seems likely that the confession was obtained through physical and/or psychological abuse," Dr. Vincent Iacopino, MD and Senior Advisor for Physicians for Human Rights, told the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR).
"The detainee is naked, at least from the waist up; he appears anxious and fearful, and there is a bruise on his left shoulder that is visible when he stands up at the end of the interview."
Bahraini opposition leader and former MP Ali Alaswad told IBTimes UK said the video confirms that detainees "are still being forced into confessions in Bahrain".
"This video serves not only as a false confession but a form of humiliation and degradation that all opposition people are subjected to in Bahrain," he said. "The young man claims that Sheikh Issa Qassim and Sheikh Ali Salman paid him 10 Bahraini Dinars per day to 'kill policemen'. Both these national figures have condemned violence and called for only peaceful protest, so it is clear that such claims are completely untrue.
"It is easy to see from this video, why Bahrain would want to stop the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture [Juan Mendez] entering the country," he continued, referring to the Bahraini government's decision to postpone indefinitely a visit by Mendez.
In May, New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged Bahraini authorities to investigate allegations that officials torture activists in prison. Since late April 2013, officials have allegedly tortured a prominent human rights activist and a woman arrested for protesting against the Formula 1 grand prix race.
"If the latest allegations are brushed aside it will be yet more evidence suggesting that Bahrain's justice system is a haven for torturers," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at HRW. "Bahrain's allies should apply serious pressure on Bahrain to investigate and hold accountable anyone responsible for brutally torturing activists."