Bahraini courts charge 17 with crimes of terrorism
Bahraini protesters hold placards portraying Sheikh Ali Salman, head of the Shiite opposition movement Al-Wefaq, during a demonstration against his arrest. (AFP/File)
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Seventeen people have been charged in Bahraini regime with forming a “terror cell” amid widespread criticism of the kingdom over its suppression of the opposition.
"The members had agreed to set up a terror cell to make explosives and weapons to carry out terror acts, target security forces ... and spread panic among people," Bahrain's Prosecutor Ahmed Al-Hammadi claimed on Saturday.
He alleged that the group had been involved in bombings in the island kingdom's Maqaba, al-Janabiya, Budaiya and Qarya vilages.
The trial for the defendants is set for March 22 and two of them outside the country will be tried in absentia, the prosecutor added.
Since mid-February 2011, thousands of pro-democracy protesters have held numerous rallies in the streets of Bahrain, calling for the Al Khalifa royal family to relinquish power.
Bahrain has been severely criticized by human rights groups for its harsh crackdown on anti-government protesters, which has claimed the lives of scores of people so far.
Since the onset of the protests, Bahraini authorities have also arrested a number of opposition figures and activists, including secretary general of the opposition party, al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, Sheikh Ali Salman.
The London-based rights group Amnesty International has called on Bahraini officials to observe citizens’ rights to freedom of expression and assembly.
The group has already voiced concern over Manama’s treatment of the opposition.
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