Middle East

Bahrain protesters clash with police, destroy 2 vehicles

An anti-government protester throws a molotov cocktail at riot police during clashes in Salmabad.

DUBAI/MANAMA: Two police vehicles in Bahrain were “completely destroyed” Monday after protesters threw petrol bombs at them south of the capital Manama, state news agency BNA reported .

“A group of saboteurs attacked two police patrols south of Manama, completely destroying both vehicles,” it quoted a security official as saying, adding that the authorities were searching for the assailants to bring them to justice.

Meanwhile, lawyers for a Bahraini human rights activist who is on hunger strike and attorneys for 20 other opposition figures appealed their convictions on anti-state charges Monday.

Activist Abdul-Hadi al-Khawaja is serving a life sentence for his role in last year’s uprising in the Gulf kingdom. Seven other prominent opposition leaders were also sentenced to life imprisonment. Another 12 received lengthy prison sentences in a special security court, which was set up after the country imposed martial law last March to quell political unrest.

Khawaja was arrested in April during a government crackdown on protests staged by the country’s Shiite majority demanding greater rights from Sunni rulers.

His lawyer Mohammad al-Jaishi said that he and the attorneys for the other 20 leaders appealed their clients’ convictions and sentences during Monday’s session in Bahrain’s Court of Cassation.

The attorneys also asked a five-judge panel to free the prisoners on bail – a request the judges declined, Jaishi said.

Another hearing in the case was set for April 23.

The 21 activists were convicted by a special security court in June of participating in efforts to overthrow the ruling dynasty. Of those, seven had been tried in absentia.

Khawaja has been on hunger strike for more than 50 days. He has been refusing food since Feb. 8.

Last week, Amnesty International urged Bahrain to free him because of fears he could die.

Khawaja, who is married and has four daughters, is also a citizen of Denmark, where he lived in exile for decades. He returned to Bahrain after the government announced a general amnesty in 2001.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 03, 2012, on page 8.




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