Last updated: 8 October, 2012

Bahraini court denies bid for Nabeel Rajab’s release

A Bahraini court on Monday denied a request to release Shiite rights activist Nabeel Rajab who is serving a three-year sentence for taking part in anti-regime protests, his lawyer said.

The request was made by Rajab’s defence team, lawyer Mohammed al-Jishi said.

The court “rejected a request to release Nabeel Rajab and suspend” his sentence, Jishi said on his Twitter account.

Rajab, 48, went on hunger strike on October 6 after the authorities denied his request to attend a three-day condolences gathering for his mother.

The government did release him temporarily for her funeral on October 4, where he allegedly “violated” the terms of his release by urging Shiites to continue anti-government protests.

The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights said that Rajab called on mourners to “continue their struggle for rights and democracy,” and argued that his speech was a “peaceful expression of opinion.”

Bahrain’s majority Shiites have for decades complained of marginalisation by the ruling Sunni regime.

The courts have merged Rajab’s three separate cases of “incitement and illegal assembly” into one single appeal, with the next hearing set for October 16.

Separately, the attorney general announced in a statement on Monday that charges against a police officer accused of shooting dead a Shiite protester on August 17 have been dropped.

The policeman had acted in “self-defence” after the man who was killed “attempted to throw a molotov cocktail at him,” the statement said.

Sporadic protests have intensified since a March 2011 deadly crackdown ended month-long protests in central Manama.

According to the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), a total of 80 people have been killed in Bahrain since the violence began on February 14, 2011.

The interior ministry says that more than 700 people, including a number of police officers, have been injured in protests.