Bahrain king orders release of political prisoners

AP , Tuesday 22 Feb 2011

In an attempt by the Bahraini monarchy to engage protesters in political dialogue, King Hamad orders release of some political prisoners

Bahrain
Thousands of Bahraini mourners participate in a funeral march Tuesday in Malkiya, Bahrain, (AP).

King Hamad Ibn Isa Al-Khalifa of Bahrain has ordered the release of some political prisoners as the embattled monarchy tries to engage protesters in talks aimed at easing the weeklong demonstrations demanding change in the strategic Gulf nation.

A leading member of Bahrain's Shia opposition, Abdul Jalil Khalil, says the prisoner release is "a good step" and a "positive gesture." However, Khalil says it will only lead to dialogue if 25 Shia activists on trial since last year for plotting against the state are among those freed Tuesday.

It was not clear how many prisoners the king would release.

A prominent opposition figure, Hassan Meshaima, also says he plans to return from London to join the protesters in Manama's Pearl Square.

Meshaima is the head of an opposition Shia group known as Haq.

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