Middle East

Bahrain court rejects calls to free Shiite activist

A riot policeman aims at Bahraini anti-government protesters in Manama, Bahrain, Sept. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

DUBAI: A Bahrain appeals court rejected on Monday lawyers' requests to release Shiite activist Nabeel Rajab, who is serving a three-year term for taking part in protests, judicial sources said.

The court refused to release Rajab on bail as requested by his defense team and scheduled the next hearing on September 27, the sources said.

Rajab, who appeared in court for the first appeal hearing, said he had been held in solitary confinement in a cell that had strong smells of fresh paint and rotting dead animals.

However, the cell was cleaned after he complained, he told the court.

Rajab, 48, received a three-year sentence on August 16 for "unauthorized" protests against Bahrain's Sunni monarchy.

The court decision drew wide criticism from rights groups and Western powers who urged Bahrain to overturn the sentence and release him immediately.

The head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Rajab led anti-government protests following a crackdown on Shiite-led demonstrations against the regime in March 2011.

He had insisted on demonstrating inside Manama, unlike the main Shiite opposition which now stages protests in villages, after last year's clampdown on protesters who occupied the capital's Pearl Square for a month.





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