Disabled Saudi man faces jail for criticising Saudi hospitals

Disabled Saudi man faces jail for criticising Saudi hospitals
Blog: Campaign launched to acquit Dolan bin Bakheet, sentenced to 18 months in jail and 100 lashes for using Twitter to complain about poor care in hospitals.
2 min read
19 May, 2015
Bakheet accused the hospital in Taima of being run by a "gang of thieves" [alAraby]
A campaign has been launched to aid a disabled Saudi man sentenced to 100 lashes and 18 months in jail for complaining about the medical treatment he received.

Dolan bin Bakheet was arrested after posting on Twitter about neglect of patients and poor safety procedures he witnessed in hospital. He is currently appealing against his sentence, which was passed last week.

The 35-year-old was injured 10 years ago in a car crash and now uses a wheel chair. He says he has suffered from constant medical negligence in several Saudi hospitals, and he has never had any physical therapy.

Bakheet turned to Twitter about a year ago to complain, after he sent many unanswered complaints to the ministry of health. As time went on his posts became more bold.

Bakheet accused the hospital in Taima of being run by a "gang of thieves". The head of the hospital then filed an official complaint against Bakheet for defamation in the bureau of investigation and public prosecution.      

Tabouk police spokesperson Khalid al-Ghabban said Bakheet was being punished under the country's anti-cyber crime laws for using "defamatory" language against the head of the hospital. "The sentencing has not yet been carried out because the case is in the appeals process," he added.

Bakheet's sentence has angered many Saudis who have used Twitter to express their disbelief.

Popular user Walid al-Hujouri tweeted:

Translation: The limit for slander is 80 lashes but the sentence was a year and half in prison and 100 lashes! Honestly no comment.

Disabled Twitter user Hamid al-Shahrani said:

Translation: Unfortunately this is the fate for us disabled people: no rights or services and we must not speak out otherwise the same will happen to us as has happened to our brother.

PHD law student Mansour bin Turki tweeted:

Translation: Law schools where judges graduate from are in need of intense courses on human rights. How can a disabled man be punished physically in a way that will increase his suffering?