Bahrain extends detention of human rights activist

January 5, 2017 10:30 pm

Bahraini anti-regime protesters hold up images of human rights activist Nabeel Rajab during a solidarity demonstration outside his home in the village of Bani Jamra, , May 14, 2015. (Photo by AP)

The Bahraini Attorney General has extended for 15 more days the detention of prominent human rights campaigner Nabeel Rajab, who was expected to be released pending trial.
Mohammed al-Jishi, a lawyer representing Rajab, said on Thursday that the order was the sixth extension of Rajab’s pre-trial detention, Bahraini media reported.
The activist was arrested last June over tweets he posted in 2015 criticizing the Manama regime for torturing prisoners at a local jail and for its involvement in the deadly Saudi aggression against Yemen.
Rajab was accused of “spreading false and rumors and inciting propaganda during wartime,” allegations denied by the defendant.
Late last December, a court ruling ordered the 52-year-old activist’s release on bail pending a trial due on January 23.
Hours later, however, Bahrain’s public prosecutor announced that Rajab would remain in custody while another investigation continued into a separate case accusing him of publishing what was said to be “false and malicious rumors” against the Persian Gulf kingdom.
“The public prosecutor is detaining Rajab without any reason,” Jishi said, adding, “This is illegal, because according to criminal law procedure 147, they cannot keep him without charge for more than 6 months.”
Rajab had been repeatedly detained for organizing anti-regime protests and publishing online comments deemed insulting to the ruling dynasty. He was pardoned for health reasons before his re-arrest last summer.
The United Nations has urged Manama to “immediately and unconditionally” free Rajab from prison.
Bahrain delays Sheikh Qassim’s trial
Separately on Thursday, the Bahraini judiciary postponed the trial of top Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim to late January.
Sheikh Qassim’s trial has been delayed several times over the past 200 days as the village of Diraz, where the cleric’s home is situated, remains under the Bahraini forces’ siege, Lebanon’s al-Ahed news website reported.
Qassim, the spiritual leader of Bahrain’s dissolved opposition bloc, the al-Wefaq National Islamic , was stripped of his nationality last June over accusations that he used his position to serve foreign interests and promote sectarianism and violence. The cleric has denied the claims.
Meanwhile, al-Wefaq Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Hussein al-Daihi on Thursday criticized the international community for keeping silent on the Diraz blockade and Al Khalifah brutality.
He further called for the formation of a fact-finding committee regarding the case.
Bahrain, home to US Navy’s 5th Fleet, has been rocked by a wave of anti-regime demonstrations since mid-February 2011.
Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others injured or detained amid Manama’s ongoing crackdown on dissent and widespread discrimination against the country’s Shia majority.
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