August 3, 2011

Bahrain Ministry of Health Responds to Medecins Sans Frontieres Statement

MANAMA, Bahrain, Aug. 3, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Ministry of Health is disappointed by the serious allegations made yesterday in a press release issued by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) with respect to the arrest of Mr. Saeed Mahdi. The Ministry would like to clarify the serious falsehoods in the MSF press release.

1. The events to which the MSF press release speaks occurred because it was operating an unlicensed medical center in a residential apartment building. As MSF was aware, a license was required to provide health services in Bahrain in the current normal circumstances. The existence of this center was not known to the relevant Bahraini authorities.

2. On 27 July 2011, it was unable to provide proper assistance to a patient and it then sought the assistance of the emergency services.

3. The call to the Emergency Services was made by Mr. Saeed Mahdi, the coordinator for the MSF center. In order to hide the fact that the patient had initially been treated at the unlicensed center, Mr. Mahdi asked for the intervention of the medical services on the basis that he had witnessed a heavily injured person on the side of the road. He reported the incident as a bystander.

4. The patient was then taken to hospital by paramedics. As the injuries suffered were serious, the police intervened to ask how the injuries occurred.

5. Upon further questioning by the police and public prosecutor, Mr. Mahdi initially maintained that he had come across the patient lying on the road. When confronted by the evidence of the paramedics that they had picked up the patient from a medical type facility inside a building, Mr. Mahdi admitted, under oath, that he is in fact the coordinator for the MSF medical center. He further admitted that this center was unlicensed.

6. A warrant was then issued to search the medical center. It is incorrect that any search took place without such a warrant.

7. Mr. Mahdi was charged with four criminal offences, including providing health services without a license and providing false information to the police and the public prosecutor.

8. The accused has never been denied access to a lawyer. The accused's legal representation is Ms. Reem Khalaf.

9. Neither has the accused's family ever been denied access to Mr. Mahdi. The accused's family has visited him as recently as 3 August 2011.

While the government of Bahrain routinely welcomes international humanitarian organizations, Bahrain cannot allow any such organization or individuals involved with such an organization to breach Bahraini law. In an area of such fundamental importance as public health services, the Government of Bahrain has a duty to be vigilant in licensing those authorized to provide health services and likewise a duty to investigate those who do so without a license.

The criminal process is underway and Mr. Mahdi will be accorded the full rights under Bahraini law.

SOURCE Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain