12/29/2018

Death sentence upheld by Appeals Court

https://gulfnews.com/world/gulf/bahrain/death-sentence-upheld-by-appeals-court-1.1545757236665

32 suspects put on trial in act of terrorism

12/18/2018

Open Letter to Bahraini authorities: Drop all charges and release Nabeel Rajab

https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/open-letter-to-bahraini-authorities-drop-all-charges-and-release


We the undersigned call on Bahraini authorities to release Nabeel Rajab immediately, to repeal his convictions and sentences, and drop all charges against him. On 31 December 2018 the Court of Cassation in Bahrain may issue its verdict in the appeal of the five-year prison sentence handed to him for peaceful comments posted and retweeted on his Twitter account about the killing of civilians in the Yemen conflict by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, and allegations of torture in Jau prison.
We are concerned that the authorities intend to increase Rajab’s prison sentence unopposed, by setting 31 December as the date for a hearing and possible issuing of a verdict, while most Bahrainis and people around the globe will be focused on year-end celebrations. This is not an idle concern, as, opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman was arrested on 28 December 2014 and subsequently convicted and sentenced to four years in jail following an unfair trial. And last month, in yet another case brought against him on spying charges, the Court of Appeal overturned his initial acquittal and sentenced him instead to life in prison.
Rajab has been a tireless champion of human rights for many years, helping to found and run the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, both members of the IFEX network.
He has been detained since his arrest on 13 June 2016. He was held largely in solitary confinement during the first nine months of his detention, violating UN rules on pre-trial imprisonment, and has been subjected to humiliating treatment. His books, toiletries, and clothes have been confiscated and his cell frequently raided at night.
Rajab was sentenced to two years in jail in 2017 on charges of “publishing and broadcasting false news that undermines the prestige of the state” during TV interviews he gave in 2015 and 2016 in which he stated that Bahraini authorities bar reporters and human rights workers from entering the country. He was sentenced in 2018 to five years in prison on charges of “disseminating false rumors in times of war” for tweets about torture in Jau Prison and the war in Yemen.
At its eighty-first session, 17-26 April 2018, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that Rajab’s “deprivation of liberty constitutes a violation of articles 2 and 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 2 (1) and 26 of the Covenant – on the grounds of discrimination based on political or other opinion, as well as on his status as a human rights defender”.
We therefore urge Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Nabeel Rajab, quash his convictions and sentences, and drop all charges against him; and undertake a prompt, impartial, independent and effective investigation into his allegations of ill-treatment. The findings of the investigation must be made public and anyone suspected of criminal responsibility must be brought to justice in fair proceedings.
As this case is part of a pattern of abuse and harassment against human rights defenders and journalists in Bahrain, we also urge the authorities to cease all such actions and ensure that the right to freedom of expression and freedom of the press is respected.

Jailed Women’s Rights Activists Tell Saudi Investigators of Torture

https://www.wsj.com/articles/jailed-womens-rights-activists-tell-saudi-investigators-of-torture-11545074461

Human-rights commission investigating alleged waterboarding, electrocution of activists who led campaign to end driving ban on women



A human-rights commission reporting to Saudi King Salman is investigating the alleged torture of detained women’s rights activists, including accusations of waterboarding and electrocution, according to government officials and other people familiar with the activists’ situation.
A top aide to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saud al-Qahtani, allegedly oversaw some aspects of the torture and threatened at least one jailed woman with rape and death, according to testimony before the commission, those officials and others said.
One activist told the commission that security officials electrocuted her hands. “My fingers resembled barbecued meat, swollen and blue,” the woman told Saudi investigators, according to a person familiar with her statement.
The alleged treatment of the activists, along with the killing of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, are part of what critics of the Saudi government say is a broad effort to quash dissent and limit freedom of speech.
The Saudi government has dismissed the allegations as “wild claims” and denied security officials tortured the detained activists, many of whom were men and women campaigning for women’s right to drive. Saudi government representatives didn’t respond to a request for comment for this article.
The Saudi Human Rights Commission was created by the country’s previous monarch, King Abdullah, in 2005 to primarily investigate allegations of government abuses and report them to the king. It has the power to refer cases to judicial authorities for criminal investigation, something it has done in the past. The commission began its investigation after The Wall Street Journal, rights groups and others in November reported on the alleged torture.
Saudi Arabia’s attorney general is currently conducting a separate investigation into the killing of Mr. Khashoggi. It has exonerated Prince Mohammad, saying he had no knowledge of the operation, although his top aide, Mr. Qahtani, was dismissed from his job and is implicated in the investigation.
The U.S. Senate last week unanimously passed a resolution with broad bipartisan support that condemned Mr. Khashoggi’s killing and said Prince Mohammed is responsible for his death.
Some of the imprisoned women’s rights activists were labeled as traitors in pro-government media and accused by the government of conspiring with unnamed foreign entities and of spreading discord in society. None of them have been formally charged.
Critics say the government targeted activists to send the message that change can only come from Saudi Arabia’s top leadership. Prince Mohammed has cracked down on internal opposition while he pushes through his agenda to liberalize Saudi Arabia’s conservative society and open up its oil-dependent economy to foreign investors.
The commission’s investigators began interviewing some of the kingdom’s most prominent women’s rights activists over the past month at Jeddah’s Dabhan prison, including Loujain al-Hathloul, a 29-year-old who was a leading figure in a grass-roots campaign to have the driving ban lifted.
Saudi security officers physically abused them, including by electrocution, lashing and sexual harassment. Some of the most severe treatment was meted out to Ms. Hathloul, according to the Saudi officials and other people familiar with the women’s situation.
Mr. Qahtani personally oversaw her interrogation, which included waterboarding, people familiar with her situation said. “Saud al-Qahtani threatened to rape her, kill her and to throw her into the sewage,” one of those people said.
Mr. Qahtani, Prince Mohammed’s former media adviser and a top lieutenant, has been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury over Mr. Khashoggi’s murder. The Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, has reported he played a central role in the operation that led to the journalist’s death. Before he was fired, Mr. Qahtani was in charge of the monarchy’s crackdown on those it viewed as dissidents.
Of the 18 detained activists, at least eight have been physically abused in custody, according to Saudi advisers, activists and others with knowledge of the prisoners’ treatment. Much of the abuse occurred in a government-run guesthouse in Jeddah in the summer months, before they were transferred to a regular prison, they said.
According to people familiar with their situation, the victims also include driving activists Aziza al-Yousef, a 60-year-old university professor; Eman al-Nafjan, a mother of three; and Samar Badawi, who is known for having opposed Saudi Arabia’s male guardianship rules and whose brother, liberal blogger Raif Badawi, is one of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent detainees.
Last week, Ms. al-Yousef, Ms. al-Nafjan and Ms. al-Hathloul were transferred from Jeddah to Riyadh’s al-Hayer political prison, according to two people familiar with the matter. The transfer could be an indication the activists will soon go to trial, as national security cases are often heard in Riyadh’s Specialized Criminal Court.
The Human Rights Commission has typically avoided highlighting politically sensitive issues in public, such as cases involving activists.
Some Saudi officials monitoring the situation said they are doubtful the investigation would lead to criminal charges.
“I don’t see how they will hold anyone accountable if they already publicly denied that the torture ever happened,” said a Saudi official who is aware of the torture allegations and of the commission’s investigation.
Disclosure of the probe could add to already intense pressure on the Saudi government over human rights.
“The detainment and torture of women’s rights activists demanding equal rights in Saudi Arabia is another example of how the current Saudi leadership does not share our values,” Sen. Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, told the Journal. “This pattern of human-rights violations is unacceptable, and it very well may have consequences for the bilateral relationship.”
Write to Margherita Stancati at margherita.stancati@wsj.com and Summer Said at summer.said@wsj.com

LA LIBERTÀ CONDIZIONATA NEL BAHRAIN, E QUEL CASO DI TORTURA DI CUI NON SI PARLA

https://caffedeigiornalisti.it/la-liberta-condizionata-nel-bahrain-e-quel-caso-di-tortura-di-cui-non-si-parla/

«Bahrain, il fratellino saudita, non è al di sopra dell’uccisione dei giornalisti. Nel 2011, le autorità del Bahrain hanno torturato a morte Karim Fakhrawi , il co-fondatore dell’unico quotidiano indipendente del paese, al-Wasat. L’unico motivo per cui il caso di Fakhrawi non ha mai ricevuto la stessa attenzione di Khashoggi è che il suo nome non è mai apparso in un sottotitolo di un grande quotidiano americano».
Queste dure dichiarazioni sono di Sayed Ahmed Al-Wadaei, direttore Advocacy del Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), organizzazione con sede nel Regno Unito. L’articolo apparso sul Washington Post, che raccoglie anche le dichiarazioni di Al-Wadaei, fa il punto sulla libertà di stampa e di espressione nel piccolo paese del golfo persico. Nel settembre di quest’anno, la polizia ha arrestato 169 attivisti con l’accusa di appartenenza a una presunta ‎organizzazione ‎sciita libanese Hezbollah: tra questi, anche diversi giornalisti. All’interno delle carceri di Jaw, tra scioperi della fame, denunce di maltrattamenti e torture, vengono trattenuti ancora 15 giornalisti.
Il  24 novembre scorso, giorno di elezioni parlamentari, il Bahrain è andato alle urne con circa 4.000 prigionieri politici, senza opposizione, senza media indipendenti, senza libertà e senza equità. Questo accade in un momento definito “storico”, per via delle quote rosa al governo, ma molto controverso: elezioni  definite illegittime dalla comunità europea e da tante organizzazioni internazionali per la cancellazione di Al Wafaq, partito di opposizione sciita e per la sentenza di carcere a vita, emessa in appello il 4 novembre di quest’anno dal Tribunale di Manama, nel caso di Sheikh Ali Salman, leader del partito di opposizione, accusato di spionaggio con il Qatar.
Hanno votato al primo turno il 67% degli abitanti del bahrain in un clima di boicottaggio e di sfiducia; per la prima volta nella storia governativa sarà una donna Fawzia Fainal a presiedere il Consiglio dei Rappresentati della camera bassa del parlamento; mossa politica voluta e cercata dal giovane principe saudita Mohammad bin Salman, presente il giorno del ballottaggio a Manama.
Tutto ciò accade mentre il Washington Post parla di “karma” nell’affare Malinowski: in America, il candidato democratico Tom Malinowski ha recentemente battuto il repubblicano Leonard Lance: nel nuovo Congresso, Malinowski potrebbe diventare un giocatore chiave nell’indirizzare nuove e democratiche politiche per il  Bahrain e il Golfo. Uomo di grande esperienza e conoscenza della società civile e politica del paese, nel 2014 (cioè quando lavorava per il Dipartimento di Stato) era stato dichiarato “persona non gradita” dalle autorità del Bahrain perché aveva preferito, atterrando sull’isola, incontrare il leader dell’opposizione Sheikh Ali Salman, i giornalisti sciiti e gli attivisti. Gli fu chiesto di lasciare il paese entro 24 ore; non ha mai rispettato la volontà della famiglia Al Khalifa. Sicché è rimasto in Bahrain, nella base della Marina Americana, concludendo la missione. Senza mai cedere alle richieste del governo e destando sconcerto nelle autorità e una certa ilarità e ironia tra la popolazione sciita.
Per giorni, ad Hamad Town, la seconda città del Bahrain a maggioranza sciita, i giovani hanno sventolato bandiere con il volto di Malinowski.

12/14/2018

Thailand urged to stop footballer's extradition to Bahrain

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/12/thailand-urged-stop-footballer-extradition-bahrain-181212014315728.html

Former national player Hakeem al-Araibi has refugee status in Australia and fears persecution if extradited to Bahrain.
by

Melbourne, Australia - Friends and supporters of Australian-based refugee
Hakeem al-Araibi are stepping up calls for his release from detention in Thailand,
where he faces extradition to Bahrain, the country where he was born.
Al-Araibi, who once played football for Bahrain's national team, appeared in a
Bangkok court on Tuesday where the judge extended his detention by 60 days to give
Bahrain time to make its case.
"Please stop them," a handcuffed al-Araibi told journalists as he was escorted
outside the courtroom in a video circulated on social media. "I am Australian, not Bahraini.
I didn't do anything," the 25-year-old added.
A group of the footballer's friends - mainly refugees, asylum seekers and students
of Bahraini descent -have been holding a protest outside the Thai consulate in Melbourne,
Australia's second city, day and night for the past few days.
"I think Hakeem has been targeted because he's a national figure, plus his brother
is very active [politically], so they just target the whole family," said Bassam*, one of
al-Araibi's friends.
Thailand said it was acting on an Interpol "Red Notice", an international arrest
warrant that had been issued at Bahrain's request when it detained al-Araibi on
November 27 after arriving in Bangkok for his honeymoon.
The footballer, a Shia Muslim in a country ruled by a Sunni royal family, fled
Bahrain four years ago saying he had been tortured after being arrested in 2012. Australia
recognised him as a refugee last year.
"This is someone who fled his home country after being tortured, and there is 
every risk he will face the same treatment again if he is forced back," Evan Jones, 
programme coordinator at the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network, said in a joint
statement with ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights.
"Returning Hakeem Al-Araibi to Bahrain would not only be cruel and inhumane, 
it would also violate international human rights law. Thai immigration authorities 
should immediately release him from detention and ensure that he is allowed to 
return to Australia without any harm coming to him."
Bahrain convicted al-Araibi in his absence of vandalising a police station,
sentencing him to 10 years in prison. He has denied the charges, saying he
was on the pitch in a footballmatch at the time.

'Humble, respectful'

Since arriving in Australia, al-Araibi had built a new life for himself in Melbourne's
sprawling suburbs, playing as a defender for Pasco Vale, a semi-professional club
in the city's northwest.
"There was no coincidence that his role was a big assistance to our performance,
" Pasco Vale coach Vitale Ferrante told Al Jazeera, adding that the team had just
enjoyed its best-ever season.
"From when he walked through the door he was just a humble, respectful
individual and he fitted in straight away," said Ferrante.
Bassam described him as "very charming".
"He'd always find a way to cheer you up. I had actually an embarrassing
situation where I needed clothes. He was more than happy to help me out.
Although he needed them because he doesn't make a lot of money, he gave
them to me anyway."
Australia's wider footballing community has rallied around the player.
Football Federation Australia has written to the Thai ambassador in Canberra,
while Football Victoria, which oversees the sport in the southern Australian state,
said it had sent a letter addressed directly to Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth
Chan-ocha.
"Everybody's really shocked," said Ferrante, the coach. "Being Australian,
we're not exposed to this kind of stuff. I think it's shaken everybody up and
everybody's really concerned about his welfare," he added.
"It's not just about political stuff, it's about humanity," added Jalil*, another
friend protesting against the detention outside the Thai consulate.
"How do you see someone suffering and do nothing? It's not just about he's
our friend. It's about humanity, trying to fight for someone."

Life in danger

Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne has expressed her concern at
Al-Araibi's detention and called on Thailand to return him to Australia.
"Returning Mr Al-Araibi to Bahrain from where he fled would contravene
his rights under international human rights law," Payne said in a statement.
Australian consular officials had visited al-Araibi and were in regular contact
with him, she said.
Fatima Yazbek, the secretary of the Sydney-based Gulf Institute for Democracy
and Human Rights, said Hakeem faced the risk of "jail, torture, (and) unfair trial"
if returned to Bahrain.
"His life would be in danger," she told Al Jazeera.
"We were in jail when we were in Bahrain," said Abdullah*, another Bahraini
refugee outside the consulate in Melbourne.
"I know what is happening if he gets back to Bahrain. That's why we're here."
Thailand is not a signatory to the United Nationsrefugee convention and the
footballer could face months in detention in Thailand as the case moves through
the courts.
But his friends in Australia remain optimistic he will return home.
"They're going to get a really important team member back," said Pascoe
Vale's Ferrante of his team. "We'll have to throw a little party."
*asked not to use his real name for fear of retaliation

In first, Bahrain parliament to be headed by woman


Fawzia Zainal is the third Arab woman to head parliament after the UAE and Syria

Manama: Bahrain has become the third Arab country to have a woman president of the parliament.
The UAE was the first in 2015 and Syria was the second one year later.
Fawzia Zainal made the breakthrough in Bahrain’s history on Wednesday evening after she was voted in by the members of the Council of Representatives, the lower chamber of the bicameral parliament.
Fawzia received 25 votes while the two other contenders Adel Assoomi and Eisa Al Kooheji got 13 and two respectively.
Her outstanding triumph was enhanced by the fact that she is a first time law-maker, unlike Al Assomi who has been representing the First Constituency of the Capital since 2006 and Al Kohheji, the representative of the Fifth Constituency in Muharraq since 2010.
Fawzia in the 2018 elections embodied the perseverance and strong determination of Bahraini women. She ran a first time in 2006 and lost, but she went ahead again in 2014 and once again could not win. During both campaigns, she had to put up with strong competition from conservative forces. Some of her billboard posters were defamed and her tent headquarters was set ablaze.
Yet, she was among the first Bahrainis to announce her candidacy in 2018 and this time, she breezed through the first round on November 24 and carried her con-stituency.
Fawzia has benefitted from the statements that insisted it was time for Bahraini women to lead the parliament based on the “vast experiences they accumulated over years of being members.”

MORE FROM BAHRAIN

The first woman, Lateefa Al Gaood, was elected in 2006 after an unsuccessful bid in 2002 when the first elections were held following a three-decade hiatus and the promulgation of a constitution that allowed women to vote and run.
Lateefa and three other women were lawmakers in the 2010-2014 parliament. The number dropped to three in the 2014-2018 legislative term, but reached a record number of six in the new term.
“I thank you profusely for your trust in me,” Fawzia said after she was declared after she was declared Speaker. “Your votes mean a lot to me and we should all work together to turn the promises and pledges we made during the electoral campaigns a reality on the ground. Our logos and mottos should become facts.”
In his speech at the opening of the new term of the parliament, King Hamad paid rich tribute to women.
“We highlight the leading role of Bahraini women that has contributed to shaping our contemporary civil state, moving beyond the stage of empowerment, support and right-claiming rights, to the stage of advanced and responsible presence in which they enjoy full human rights and work alongside men on the basis of balanced partnership towards development,” he said.

12/02/2018

Record number of Bahraini women elected to parliament


https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/12/record-number-bahraini-women-elected-parliament-181202165415224.html


A total of six women are voted in, doubling the number of female legislators in the Council of Representatives.

A record number of women have been elected in Bahrain's elections in what officials say is an historicachievement that has broken the glass ceiling of representation in the country's parliament.
By the election's second and final round of voting on Sunday, a total of six women were voted in, doubling the number of female legislators in the tiny Gulf kingdom. 
"The 2018 elections are historic for Bahrain," Mohammed al-Sayed, spokesperson for Citizens for Bahrain organisation, told Al Arabiya English news channel.
"We will certainly have more women in parliament, and this is a source of pride for all Bahrainis as we believe in equality and the important role played by Bahraini women in society and politics," he continued.
Sawsan Kamal, Zainab Abdul Amir, Massoma Abdul Raheem and Kaltham Al Hayki joined Fawzia Zainal and Fatima Al Qatari, who were elected in the first round on November 24.
The total number of seats for Bahrain's Council of Representatives is 40.

'Breaking the glass ceiling'

Bahrain's first elections in 2002 saw no women elected to parliament, despite 31 female candidates. The following election in 2006 saw only one woman elected, Lateefa al-Gaood, who retained her seat in 2010 and remained the sole woman legislator.
In the 2014 election, three women were elected to parliament.
Bahrain does not have a quota system for female representation in parliament, with many Bahrainis viewing such a scheme as running against the country's constitution, which states equal rights for all of its citizens.
Speaking to the state-owned Bahrain Television, Ahlam Janahi from Bahrain's Businesswomen's Society said the latest election will be remembered for breaking the glass ceiling.
"Finally, the women of Bahrain have proven themselves that they are able to represent themselves in all facets of life and proved that as a country, we do not need a quota system in order guarantee female representation," Janahi said.

Elections boycotted by opposition

The government said at 67 percent, the voter turnout for this year's election was the largest in Bahrain's history. The opposition, however, claimed the turnout did not exceed 30 percent.
The last election in 2014 had a turnout of 53 percent after when opposition groups boycotted elections in the Western-allied kingdom, home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet.
Activists had called for a boycott of this vote, describing it as a "farce", amid a crackdown on dissent by the ruling Al Khalifa family since it quashed a Shia-led uprising in 2011 with the help of neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
Since then, the island state has kept a lid on dissent, closing opposition groups, barring their members from running in elections and prosecuting scores of people, many described by human rights groups as activists, in mass trials.



Bahrain poll sees ‘Pink Wave’: 6 MPs, 4 councillors

https://gulfnews.com/world/gulf/bahrain/bahrain-poll-sees-pink-wave-6-mps-4-councillors-1.60705575


37 new lawmakers elected as independent candidates emerge victorious


Manama: The number of women lawmakers in Bahrain has doubled after voters elected four more women in the second and final round of the parliamentary elections.
Sawsan Kamal, Zainab Abdul Amir, Massoma Abdul Raheem and Kaltham Al Hayki joined Fawzia Zainal and Fatima Al Qatari who were elected in the first round on November 24.
The Council of Representatives, the lower chamber of the bicameral parliament, has 40 members.
The figure is the highest since the first elections were held in 2002 following the promulgation of a new constitution that allowed women to vote and run in elections.
No woman won in 2002, and only one won in 2006 and 2010. In the 2011 by-elections, three women won, taking the number of woman lawmakers in the 2010-2014 Council of Representatives to four.

In 2014, three women won their constituencies, but none of them will be in the new parliament after two did not run and the third lost in the first round.
With the announcement of the results early Sunday, all eyes are now set on Fawzia Zainal as a strong contender for the prestigious position of speaker. The outgoing speaker and his two deputies did not contest in the elections.

Hala Al Ansari, the Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Women, the official body in charge of elevating the status of women and empowering them politically, socially and economically, has been calling in public statements for a woman to be the next speaker.
The speaker and his deputies are elected by the lawmakers at the first session of the Council of Representatives.

The 2018-2022 Council of Representatives will have an almost entirely new make-up with 37 new deputies as only three of its former members were able to keep their seats, even though 23 sought re-election.
Abdul Nabi Salman, a member of the first parliament elected in 2002, made a successful comeback after a hiatus of 12 years.
Young lawmakers also stood out with 14 successful bids for membership in the Council. According to Justice Minister Shaikh Khalid Bin Ali Al Khalifa, 50,000 young people this year had the right to participate in the elections.

But while women and young people left a positive impact on the elections, political societies, particularly the Islamic Menbar, suffered a bitter defeat.
Only six candidates affiliated with societies were voted in — Three from Salafi society Al Asalah, two from the Progressive Tribune, a liberal society and one from the Unity Gathering Assembly.

The Islamic Menbar which has been on a downwards slide since 2010 after strong showings in 2002 and 2006 has failed to keep the single seat it had in the outgoing parliament. Al Rabta Society also lost its lone seat while Al Mithaq and Al Saf did not win. In the municipal elections, four women were elected over the two rounds.Bahrain does not have a quota system for women, arguing that preferential treatment would be against the provisions of the constitution that states equal rights and duties for all citizens.

US Navy's Middle East chief Scott Stearney found dead in Bahrain

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/12/navy-middle-east-chief-scott-stearney-dead-bahrain-181202063852028.html

Vice Admiral Scott Stearney, who oversaw US naval forces in Middle East, was found dead at his home in apparent suicide.

Vice Admiral Scott Stearney, who oversaw US Navy forces in the Middle East, was found dead on Saturday in his residence in Bahrain, according to navy officials.
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Bahraini Ministry of Interior are cooperating on an investigation. However, no foul play was suspected. 
"This is devastating news for the Stearney family, for the team at 5th Fleet, and for the entire Navy," Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson said in a video statement.
"Scott Stearney was a decorated naval warrior. He was a devoted husband and father, and he was a good friend of all of us," Richardson said.
Stearney was the commander of US Naval Forces Central Command and of the US Navy's Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet, which is responsible for patrolling the Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz, Red Sea, Arabian Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean.
In recent years, the fleet has dealt with potential threats from pirates and weapons smugglers as well as Iranian Revolutionary Guard boats and Houthirebels firing missiles at commercial ships fromYemen
In 2004, the fleet's surface warships were ordered to hold an "ethics, trust, responsibility and mission stand down" after two sailors were accused of stealing money and other valuables during an inspection of a Singaporean vessel in the Gulf.

Decades of service

Born in Chicago, Illinois, Stearney graduated from the University of Notre Dame with an economics degree before joining the US Navy in 1982.
Two years later, he became a pilot and logged more than 4,500 flight hours over the course of his career, which also included stints as a trainer and service inAfghanistan
In May, Stearney was appointed as commander of the US Naval Forces Central Command and of the Fifth Fleet, positions he occupied until his death.
Rear Admiral Paul Schlise, the deputy commander of Fifth Fleet, has assumed its command, while Vice Admiral James Malloy, a deputy chief of naval operations, is preparing to fly out to Bahrain to take command in the interim.
Further information is expected as the investigation continues.