Shia rights activist Yousif al-Muhafda acquitted by Bahrain court
(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) – A Bahrain court on Monday acquitted leading Shia 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.”
After Said Yousif was arrested on 17 December 2012 on charges of « spreading false information on Twitter», the Court postponed his hearings on several occasions, prolonging his detention. After paying 100BD (198 Euros) Said Yousif was released temporarily on 17 January; all charges, however, remained against him.
On 29 January 2013 his case was adjourned until 4 March 2013 for the defence – but a request to bring defense witnesses was rejected. Finally, at the hearing on 4 March 2013, the Court denied the request to hear evidence from the defense witnesses and postponed the case to 11 March 2013 for a verdict. This short notice does not allow international organizations such as ours to engage a lawyer to observe the verdict, nor to receive permission from the authorities to send a lawyer to Bahrain, which requires advance notice.
The successive postponements and the refusal to hear witnesses for the defense represent violations of rights of defense and of the right to a fair trial as provided in Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ratified by Bahrain on 20 September 2006.
Due to the inconsistency of the accusations and the violation of the defendant’s rights, our organizations call on authorities in Bahrain to cease all legal claims and drop all charges against Said Yousif Al-Muhafdah. We believe he is being prosecuted in an attempt to silence him and prevent him in engaging from his peaceful human rights activities.
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