The historic trials of December 24, 2014 have produced one death sentence and allegations of prisoner abuse.
The first day of the trial in Rosso Mauritania of the IRA – Mauritanie members, including Biram Dah Abeid and the other leaders of IRA, was preceded by a night of terror, sleeplessness and deprivation of food and water.
Meanwhile, in the north of Mauritania, in the industrial port city of Nouadibou, a young man accused last winter of apostasy received a death sentence for charges of apostasy. The case of Ould Mkhaitir received press coverage in the May 2014 issue of Jadalyiaa. Ould Mkhaitir faced his December 23 hearing with no lawyer to defend him. His original lawyer, Maitre Icheddou, resigned from the case after receiving death threats to himself and his family. For a time he had state appointed attorneys, but similar threats distanced these lawyers from the case.
Mauritania has not enforced the death penalty since the early 1980s.
If Ould Mkhaitir faced his trial without a lawyer, the IRA members faced their court proceedings that afternoon exhausted, famished, and in the case of Cheikh Vall, with a face bruised from a soldier’s beating. According to first-hand reports, Tuesday night, December 22, 2014, at precisely 10:30 p.m., a squad of 30 soldiers led by a lieutenant burst into the prison. Pulling all of the prisoners from their sleep, the soldiers forced everyone out of their cells with all their belongings. The prisoners convicted of criminal offenses were stripped naked and forced to lie face down on the ground while the soldiers thoroughly searched their belongings. This lasted until 3:30 in the morning. All prisoners, including the IRA members detained as political prisoners, were forced to stay out doors in the cold during these hours.
In the prison courtyard, which is about 150 square meters, the IRA members were able to move around, but the other prisoners were violently beaten under the orders of the lieutenant. Humiliating and violent treatment was inflicted on them. Some of them bear physical traces of this violence on their bodies and faces. One of the members of IRA – Mauritanie, Cheikh Vall, was hit in the mouth by the Lieutenant.
Throughout the night no one could sleep because after the soldiers had finished their search and beatings, and allowed the political prisoners back into their cells, they started a fire in one of the cells of the criminal prisoners.
In the morning the soldiers refused to allow any water, breakfast, or tea to be brought to any prisoner. Thus, the IRA defendants arrived at the courthouse at 2 in the afternoon, deprived of sleep, water, and food. The soldiers maintain that they are acting under orders.