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15 held over Bahrain protests

Suspects remanded to custody for 45 days pending investigation

Gulf News

Manama: Bahrain authorities are investigating 15 people for taking part in an illegal demonstration on Friday in the capital Manama.

The suspects will be remanded to custody for 45 days pending the investigation.

“The suspects have been questioned in the presence of their lawyer and remanded in custody,” Fahd Al Buaynain, the Capital Prosecutor, said.

They will stand trial at the Criminal Court if the investigators find them guilty.

Several people staged a protest in Manama on Friday afternoon. According to the prosecutor, the protests in Manama were the result of online calls to gather at the Manama Souq.

“Around 50 people gathered in the Manama Souq following the calls, disrupted traffic and caused panic among shoppers, resulting in many shopkeepers closing their outlets,” he said. “They also assaulted security forces who were there to protect people and property. They arrested 15 people who took part in the riots, including one who was carrying an iron rod. The one who instigated the gathering via social networks was also arrested.”

King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa last week called for the national dialogue that would bring together all political formations and independent figures.

The call was welcomed by various groups and several western countries hailed it as a positive step forward.

Samira Rajab, the state minister for information affairs and the spokesperson for the government, said that the government will not be among the interlocutors and it would restrict its role to coordinating efforts and implementing the recommendations.

No date has been given for the start of the dialogue, but the justice ministry said that it has extended invitations to various formations to nominate their representatives.

A national dialogue was held in July 2011 and brought together around 300 participants representing trade unions, parliament, NGOs, media, government, women’s rights groups and political societies.

Al Wefaq, the largest political opposition formation, took part in the talks, but eventually pulled out, arguing that it should have been allowed to send in more representatives.

Recommendations related to constitutional amendments resulted in empowering the elected lower chamber of the bicameral parliament over the appointed upper chamber, a major demand of the opposition.