Bahrain court adjourns activist's tweet trial

AFP, Sunday 20 May 2012

A Bahrain court adjourns the trial of Nabeel Rajab, a prominent opposition activist who is charged insulting the security forces in tweets that he admitted came from his account on the microblogging website

An anti-government protester holds a picture of Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab that reads ''Free Nabeel'' as he participates in a march held by Bahrain's main opposition party Al Wefaq in the village of Karzakan south of Manama, May 11, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

A Bahrain court adjourned on Sunday the trial of prominent rights activist Nabeel Rajab who is charged of tweeting insults against the government, witnesses and the prosecution said.

The new hearing will convene on Tuesday, they said.

Although the court decided to grant Rajab bail, he was ordered to remain behind bars as he is held for questioning in another case involving "taking part in a rally and calling for an illegal demonstration," chief prosecutor in the Northern Province, Nawaf al-Awadi, said in a statement.

On Wednesday, Rajab told the court that the charge against him was "vindictive" as more than 50 lawyers turned up to defend him.

The avid tweeter is accused of insulting the security forces in tweets that he admitted came from his account on the microblogging website.

Rajab, who heads the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, has been leading anti-government protests following a brutal crackdown on Shiite-led demonstrations against the Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty in March 2011.

His wife, Sumaya Rajab, who attended the hearing said the judge rejected Rajab's request to address the panel, but added that he told the court that he "does not recognise the trial."

He also dismissed the trial saying it is a "farce aimed at keeping him longer in prison."

Rajab was detained on May 5 for "insulting a statutory body via Twitter". He also faces a trial for taking part in a Manama demonstration three months ago.

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

Human Rights Watch on Tuesday urged Bahraini authorities to drop charges against Rajab.

"The charges against Nabeel Rajab are nothing more than attempts to silence one of the Bahraini government's most prominent critics," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at the New York-based watchdog.

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