Bahrain activist acquitted but remains in jail

A Bahrain appeals court on Thursday acquitted activist Nabeel Rajab, who had been sentenced to three months in jail for alleged insults isssued via Twitter, but he must still serve a three-year term for taking part in protests, a judicial source said.

By (AFP)

Published: Thu 23 Aug 2012, 5:46 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 2:00 PM

The Shiite human rights activist had been handed a three-month term on July 9 for alleged insults made on Twitter to members of the Sunni community, which sentence was overturned on Thursday.

Rajab will remain in jail, however, after he received a three-year sentence on August 16 for “unauthorised” protests against Bahrain’s Sunni monarchy.

The head of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, Rajab led anti-government protests following a brutal crackdown on Shiite-led demonstrations against the regime in March 2011.

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

Human rights groups and Western countries slammed Rajab’s three-year jail sentence, urging Bahrain to overturn the ruling.

Amnesty International called for Rajab’s immediate release, describing his sentence as “a dark day for justice in Bahrain.”

EU foreign affairs Chief Catherine Ashton said she expected “that this sentence...will be reconsidered in the appeal process.”

The US and Britain also expressed their concern at the sentence, while the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) also voiced its opposition.

Bahrain, which is ruled by the Al-Khalifa dynasty, has come under strong criticism from international rights organisations over last year’s crackdown on demonstrations that were inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings.

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