09/06/2016, 09.28
BAHRAIN
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Activist Nabeel Rajab still in jail. The authorities want him charged

The judge upholds imprisonment of Shiite human rights leader. The verdict expected October 6th. Defense request for his release for health reasons rejected. He is in prison for "insulting" state institutions and Saudi Arabia in some post circulated on the net.

Manama (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Shiite activist Nabeel Rajab will remain in jail on court order, despite health problems. The authorities have rejected the demands of the defense, which asked for his release and acquittal of all charges. Sources inside the judiciary report that the trial date is scheduled for next month, around 6 October.

The Shiite activist for human rights, already the beneficiary of a pardon last year for health reasons, was stopped three months ago and put on trial on charges of "insulting" the State institutions and Saudi Arabia in some post circulated on the net.

51 year old Rajab was present at the preliminary hearing, which took place yesterday, during which  the court rejected the release request and ordered the case to trial. The Criminal Court also confirmed the remand awaiting sentencing, in spite of health problems for which the man had already been hospitalized in June.

NGOs and human rights activists have launched an appeal to Bahrain authorities, to "immediately expedite the" trial of Rajab, who faces up to 15 years in prison "on charges that violate his right to free expression." Imprisoning Nabeel Rajab for criticism to the authorities, they add,  is a sign of the "profound contempt" of the al-Khalifa family "for basic human rights." Others speak of "show trial".

The activist was detained several times for organizing protests and publishing defamatory tweets against Sunni leaders of Bahrain, who are pushing for a new sentencing. In August of 2012, Nabil Rajab was in prison for three years for having provoked and participated in demonstrations against the government.

Rajab, has guided many Shiite protests, originally from the village of Bani Jamra, near the capital Manama, against the power of Al Khalifa, calling for greater democracy and civil liberties. On June 6, 2012 the activist was arrested for insulting the Sunni community on the web.

Bahrain is a Gulf monarchy ruled by a Sunni dynasty in a country where the majority of the population (at least 60-70%) is Shiite.  These have been calling for constitutional changes and social and economic rights. In 2011 in the wake of the Arab Spring, there were riots that the king of Bahrain - ally of Washington and supported by Riyadh - defeated with armed troops sent by Saudi Arabia.

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