Bahrain court acquits Shiite rights activist: lawyer

AFP , Tuesday 12 Mar 2013

Yousif Al-Muhafda's lawyer said on Twitter that the leading Shiite activist was acquitted on Monday

Anti-government protesters hold banners as they march during a rally organised by all opposition societies of Bahrain in Budaiya, west of Manama November 25, 2011 (Photo: Reuters)

A Bahrain court on Monday acquitted leading Shiite rights activist Yousif al-Muhafda who was on trial for spreading false news, his lawyer Mohammed al-Jishi wrote on his Twitter account.

Muhafda, who is the acting deputy head of the local non-governmental organisation, the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, was last month released on bail of 100 dinars ($265/198 euros).

He was arrested on December 17 in Manama for tweeting a picture of an injured protester after he clicked photographs of clashes between police and demonstrators.

On December 20, the public prosecution reportedly claimed that publishing the picture resulted in "protests and acts of sabotage that disrupted security and order on the same day."

Bahrain, home to the US Fifth Fleet, has seen two years of political upheaval linked to opposition demands for a real constitutional monarchy, with the unrest costing at least 80 lives, according to international rights groups.

A new round of talks between the Shiite-led opposition and the government began last month against the backdrop of daily Shiite-led protests marking the second anniversary of an uprising against the Sunni monarchy that erupted on February 14, 2011.

But the talks have been dogged by disagreements as the opposition insists that representatives of the king should join them as the Sunni Al-Khalifa monarchy which rules Shiite-majority Bahrain "monopolises all powers" in the tiny Gulf state.

Following Sunday's dialogue session, Justice Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ali al-Khalifa, who is also the coordinator of the talks, said participants have agreed that outcomes of the discussions will be approved by the king, state news agency BNA reported.

The opposition demands any decisions in the dialogue be approved in a referendum.

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