Middle East

Bahrain’s Shia trial hits impasse

Bahrain-Shia-activistsThe trial of 25 opposition Shia activists in Bahrain has hit yet another hurdle after new defense lawyers picked by authorities said they have been rejected by the activists.

The trial for the Shia activists accused of “terrorism” was adjourned until Jan. 6 after the state-appointed lawyers told the court they could not  proceed because their clients have rejected them.Bahrain’s High Criminal Court first tried the 25 accused and two other suspects in late  October for financing and practicing terrorism, among other allegations.The group– 23 in custody and two charged in absentia– face several charges ranging from spreading misinformation to financing terrorism and “inciting hatred” of the ruling royal monarchy.Earlier this month, the original defense team staged a walkout from a court session after the government rejected their call for a probe into allegations that the Shia opposition figures had undergone torture.Manama is accused of cracking down on human rights activists and the Shia opposition, which refuses to recognize the 2002 constitution and had called for a boycott of the parliamentary elections, which were held on October 23.In the lead-up to the elections, Bahrain arrested more than 250 Shias in an apparent bid to pave the way for widespread voter fraud.The Amnesty International has underscored Manama’s suppression of Shia opposition and rights activism.The Human Rights Watch and the Project on Middle East Democracy — a non-profit body with the stated aim of promoting democratic standards in the region — have also acknowledged the crackdown in the lead-up to the polls.

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