Bahrain's so-called "Pearl Revolution" was put down quickly and with extreme prejudice. Prosecutors say al-Khalifa played a role by personally torturing the doctors after they were arrested for tending to injured demonstrators.
"The charge is that she used torture, force and threats against the victims Zahra al-Sammak and Kholoud al-Durazi to make them confess to a crime," Prosecutor Nawaf Hamza told Reuters.
Princess Noura is also charged separately with being present when poet Ayat al-Qurmazi was brutally tortured. Al-Qurmazi was arrested after she read a poem criticizing the royal family in front of a crowd of 10,000 people. Her attorney claims the princess was present when others applied electric shocks to the poet's face, spat in her mouth and beat her while she was in detention.
Maryam Al-Khawaja, acting president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, told FoxNews.com the trial is a test for the government's commitment to human rights.
"The absence of an independent and fair judiciary system in Bahrain creates a lack of trust when it comes to holding people in government accountable for human rights violations," Al-Khawaja said. "The human rights situation continues to deteriorate whilst some in government positions implicated in violations receive promotions."
Serious questions are also being asked about the U.S. relationship with Bahrain in view of the island state’s dubious record on civil liberties, and as recently as September last year representatives of 11 high profile U.S.-based NGO’s appealed to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to intervene to “stop gross violations of human rights.”
“We are writing to alert you to credible reports that the security forces of the Government of Bahrain continue to engage in human rights violations against non-violent, pro-democracy protesters and to urge you to immediately suspend further U.S. military assistance and arms transfers to the responsible units, as required by law,” the organizations wrote.