Manama: A Bahrain court on Thursday released Khalil Marzouq, the deputy secretary-general of Al Wefaq National Islamic Society, after adjourning his trial to November 18.
Marzouq is facing charges of “inciting terrorism and promoting acts that constitute crimes of terrorism.”
First Attorney-General Abdul Rahman Al Sayed earlier this month said that the charges levelled after the Public Prosecution completed its investigations of the case also included “using a position within a legally formed political association to call for committing crimes that constitute acts of terrorism punishable under the Community Protection Law.”
Marzouq told the court hearing on Thursday that he rejects violence but stands by his calls for peaceful anti-government protests to force reforms in the country.
He told the three-judge panel that he supports peaceful efforts to force political concessions from the government. But he denied any support for bombings and other attacks, which have been on the rise.
The former lawmaker, who was arrested on September 17 pending the investigation, was also charged with “advocating support for perpetrators of criminal activities and justifying their crimes, calling for the continued planting of explosives and for acts of violence, supporting the criminal activities by persons accused of committing terrorist acts, advocating their crimes as well as pushing for disobeying laws.”
Al Sayed said that the Public Prosecution had confronted the defendant with audio recordings of his speeches that proved his endorsement of “the principles advocated by the terrorists who have committed many acts of planting explosives, murder and all forms of violence, and in particular the terrorist group called ‘The February 14 Coalition’.”
Marzouq openly declared his support for that group and raised its flag, which was handed over to him by an unknown masked person at one of the numerous speeches he delivered, Al Sayed said.
“In addition, he has justified legally punishable acts and stated that those criminal practices supplemented the so-called ‘revolution’ and contributed to its success,” he said.
In his statement, the First Attorney-General said that the charges were based on evidence that proved violation of the law and the breach of freedom of expression stipulated in the international covenants on freedom of opinion and expression, and that Khalil Marzouq had not been detained for political activities or speech related charges..
“For many years, Khalil Marzouq has carried out his political activities unhindered both in and out of parliament, in and out of Bahrain, freely expressing views critical of government policy — a right enshrined in Bahrain’s constitution and guaranteed by its laws,” the Information Affairs Authority (IAA) last month said.
On Wednesday, mourners clashed with police at the funeral for a 17-year-old boy whom authorities said died while carrying explosives. The official Bahrain News Agency said a gun and ammunition was found near the teen’s body. Authorities said he was wanted in connection with previous attacks.
— with inputs from AP