Bahrain court acquits human rights activist

[JURIST] A court in Bahrain on Monday acquitted human rights activist Sayed Yousif Al-Muhafda [official Twitter] on charges of spreading false news to harm the country's security on Twitter [media website]. The human rights activist informed Reuters [Reuters report] that after he spent a month in jail, the court finally overturned the charges against him. Al-Muhafda, the acting deputy head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) [advocacy website], was released on bail [JURIST report] in January pending the trial. He had been arrested in November [JURIST report] during an unauthorized protest. After being released without charges, Al-Muhafda was arrested again in December during a clash between protesters and the government in Manama, Bahrain's capital. He called the government to stop targeting human rights activists and to release outspoken Bahraini rights activist Nabeel Rajab whose prison sentence was reduced by one year [JURIST report] in December.

Bahrain [JURIST news archive] has faced international scrutiny regarding its treatment of political prisoners. Earlier this month, the country's court of appeals overturned the acquittal [JURIST report] of Zainab al-Khawaja, who has been accused of insulting a government employee, and sentenced her to three months of imprisonment. Al-Khawaja is the daughter of prominent Bahraini human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], and has served previous jail terms [JURIST report] for tearing up a picture of Bahrain's king, destruction of government property and organizing anti-government protests. Last month, Bahrain Higher Criminal Court acquitted two police officers [JURIST report] in the shooting death of a Shiite protester during the nation's pro-democracy protests in Manama that began in February 2011. The Court concluded the two police officers fired shots at Fadhel Matruk but did not intend to kill him. They had been sentenced to seven years [JURIST report] earlier for the same charges. Bahrain authorities banned all protests [JURIST report] effective October 2012. In December Bahrain's High Criminal Court of Appeals commuted death sentences [JURIST report] for two protesters, instead sentencing them to life imprisonment.

 

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