Bahrain’s Appeal Court on Monday ordered retrial in the case of prominent jailed opposition activist Abdulhadi Al Khawaja.
The court said in its verdict that the retrial will take place in a civil court, Xinhua reported.
Al Khawaja was jailed for life last year by the National Safety Court on several charges including plotting to overthrow the administration by force.
The court also ordered retrial in the case of 20 other people who were arrested with Al Khawaja last year during the unrest which allegedly had links with foreign terrorist organization. The defendants include Shia cleric Hassan Mushaima and Ebrahim Sharif, secretary-general of the National Democratic Action Society, a leftist group.
Bahraini court postponed the appeal Monday of a hunger-striking activist jailed in connection with the Gulf country’s uprising last year, his defence lawyer said dpa reported
The appeal for Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, along with 20 other activists, was adjourned to April 30.
Al-Khawaja, who holds both Bahraini and Danish citizenship, was sentenced to life in prison for his role in protests led by the country’s Shiite majority, demanding more rights from the ruling Sunni royal family.
He was convicted by a military court of plotting against the state. He has been on hunger strike for more than two months in protest at the life sentence he received in June.
Several opposition members were standing outside the court to demonstrate against the trial, amid heavy security presence. Earlier this month, Bahrain rejected a proposal to transfer al-Khawaja to Denmark for medical treatment.
While his family expressed concern about his deteriorating health, fearing that he might die in prison, Bahrain’s attorney general issued a statement insisting the 52-year-old activist was in “good health.”
International human rights groups including Amnesty International have called on Bahrain to release al-Khawaja.
Earlier this month, the European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton urged Bahrain to save al-Khawaja, saying his health was “a matter of the utmost urgency.”
“We can confirm that our foreign affairs correspondent Jonathan Miller and his team have been arrested whilst reporting for the programme from a village in Bahrain,” Channel 4 News spokesperson said. “Our primary concern is for the safety of the team, and we are working with the appropriate authorities to secure a swift release.”
The team failed to obtain journalist visas and worked without official accreditation to cover the Bahrain Grand Prix and civil unrest, the channel said on its website.
The corresponded came in contact with the Channel 4 news service and told that police were aggressive during the arrest, especially against the team’s local driver, who was arrested and assaulted in front of the team, and then separated from them.
“We are operating without accreditation, so when we were caught filming a planned demonstration in one of the Shia villages – they [police] have not been particularly pleasant. They’ve been very aggressive towards me, my crew and driver and Dr Al Shihabi, a prominent human rights activist.” Miller said while being taken to a police station.
“Right now we’re concerned for our driver…things are rather worse for Bahrainis in police custody,” he added.
A prominent opposition activist, Mohammed Al-Maskati, told RIA Novosti that police also arrested two Japanese journalists who covered protests on a highway leading to the Bahrain International Circuit, where a Formula 1 Grand Prix took place on Sunday.
Security forces and protesters clashed in Bahrain’s capital Manama and several other areas Tuesday, after people responded to a call from opposition groups for nationwide protests to mark International Workers’ Day.
In Manama, several people were injure as police dispersed protesters. The February 14 Youth Coalition had called for 15 such protests under the slogan “A hand builds and a hand resists.”
All protests began at the same time, 12:30 am at various villages and parts of the capital, DPA reported.
The group said the protests were meant as a sign of gratitude for the workers and to express solidarity with those who had been sacked from their jobs after last year protests.
The island country’s majority Shiites have been taking to the streets since early last year, demanding more rights from the ruling Sunni royal family.
More than 2,000 people were sacked from their jobs in connection with the protests.