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Bahrain denies activist bail despite health concern

Amnesty International has said Rajab could face up to 13 years if convicted [Getty]

Date of publication: 2 August, 2016

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A Bahraini court has denied bail for prominent Shia human rights activist Nabeel Rajab despite a new request to free him on health grounds.

A Bahraini court on Tuesday denied bail for prominent human rights activist Nabeel Rajab despite a new request to free him on health grounds, a judicial source said.

The 51-year-old activist, who had been pardoned for health reasons last year, was rearrested in June and is on trial on charges of insulting a state institution and neighbouring Saudi Arabia online.

He attended Tuesday's hearing during which the judge rejected his defence team's request to free Rajab because of his "health situation," the source said.

However, a doctor will check up on the activist in prison, the source added.

Rajab has had recurring health problems and was briefly taken to hospital late in June.

But the court ordered that he remain in custody throughout the trial and set the next hearing for September 5.

The criminal court had also denied bail for Rajab during the first court hearing on July 12.

     
      The Shia activist has been repeatedly detained [Getty]

Amnesty International has said Rajab could face up to 12 years if convicted and has denounced what it described as a "farcical trial".

"They should drop these absurd charges, release Nabeel Rajab and other prisoners of conscience," said Philip Luther, director of the Middle East and North Africa programme at Amnesty.

"The government must halt this brazen crackdown on freedom of expression and accept that everyone in Bahrain has the right to peacefully voice their opinions, including through social media," he said.

The Shia activist has been repeatedly detained for organising protests and publishing tweets deemed insulting to Bahrain's Sunni authorities.

He previously served two years in jail on charges of taking part in unauthorised protests in the Shia-majority kingdom.

Bahrain has been rocked by unrest since security forces crushed Shia-led protests in 2011 demanding a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister.

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