Bahraini court postpones prominent rights activist’s verdict
A Bahraini court has postponed its verdict in the trial of prominent human rights activist, Nabeel Rajab, who is charged with criticizing the Manama government.
The criminal court, scheduled to give its verdict at Thursday’s hearing, postponed the ruling until October 31.
Rajab is being tried over tweets he posted in March 2015, which accused Bahraini regime forces of torturing detainees in a main prison and criticized the Manama regime’s assistance to the Saudi military campaign against Yemen.
According to the state-run Bahrain News Agency (BNA), Rajab is accused of “spreading false news and rumors and inciting propaganda during wartime, which could undermine the war operations by the Bahraini armed forces and weaken the nation.”
Bahrain has been helping Saudi Arabia in its military aggression against Yemen, which started in March 2015.
Britain-based rights group, Amnesty International, says if convicted, the activist could face up to 13 years in prison.
Rajab, who has been repeatedly detained for organizing anti-regime demonstrations and publishing posts critical of the ruling Al Khalifah family, was pardoned for health reasons last year. The 51-year-old campaigner was, however, rearrested again in June.
Rajab is being kept in solitary confinement, with no contact or interaction with other prisoners, and the living conditions in his cell are extremely unsanitary, his lawyers say.
The rights activist has been arrested several times since the start of the anti-regime uprising in Bahrain in early 2011.
Rajab has been critical of Manama’s heavy-handed crackdown on peaceful anti-regime protests.
In early September, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on countries who “support peaceful activism” to pressure Bahrain into releasing the human rights campaigner. The group called for Rajab’s release while noting that his incarceration demonstrates the Manama regime’s lack of respect for human rights.
Bahrain court jails prominent Shia clerics
Also on Wednesday, Bahrain’s criminal court handed down jail terms to three prominent Shia clerics.
All of the three defendants — identified as Seyyed Majid Mish’al, Fazil al-Zaki, and Sheikh Mohammad Javad Shahabi — were sentenced to two years in prison each.
Bahraini clerics have strongly denounced the Al Khalifah regime for violating basic religious freedoms and its relentless crackdown on Shia Muslims.
Bahrain, a close ally of the US in the Persian Gulf region, has seen a wave of anti-regime protests since mid-February 2011. The Al Khalifah regime is engaged in a harsh crackdown on dissent and widespread discrimination against the country’s Shia majority.
Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others wounded or detained amid Manama’s ongoing crackdown.
Amnesty International and many other international rights organizations have frequently censured the Bahraini regime for rampant human rights abuses against opposition activists and anti-regime protesters.