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Bahrain MP facing gun questions after committee recommends lifting immunity

Decision to be debated by lower chamber at regular session

Gulf News

Manama: A parliamentary committee in Bahrain’s lower chamber has approved lifting the immunity of a lawmaker, paving the way for the public prosecution to quiz him following a complaint that he brandished a gun in public.

The legislative committee said that it concluded that a request from the public prosecution forwarded to them by the justice minister Shaikh Khalid Bin Ali Al Khalifa to have the immunity of MP Salman Al Shaikh removed “was not malicious”.

“Removing the immunity does not mean that the lawmaker is guilty,” Ali Hassan Al Ataish, the head of the committee, said on Sunday. “It is just a measure to allow the public prosecution to probe the complaint. The lawmaker will continue to exercise all his parliamentary rights as usual. We took the decision to remove the immunity after we checked the case documents and listened to the lawmaker. We concluded that the complaint was not malicious and agreed to allow the public prosecution to go ahead with its procedures,” he said.

Sources said that four of the seven committee members voted for lifting the immunity while the other three abstained.

The recommendation will now be debated by the 40 MPs at the lower chamber of the bicameral parliament at their regular session on Tuesday.

Under the parliament bylaws, the committee had 10 days from the day it receives the request from the justice minister to announce its recommendation.

MP Al Shaikh, 44, did not wish to make a public comment on the issue.

The request by the public prosecution to have Al Shaikh’s parliamentary immunity lifted is the second during the 2010-2014 legislative term.

A similar call was issued in November last year against MP Jasem Al Saeedi, an independent Salafist, for making remarks allegedly fomenting sectarianism.

However, the request was dismissed by his fellow MPs.

In 2009, a request to have his immunity lifted was also turned down by the lawmakers at the lower chamber.

Al Saeedi, a Friday imam at a mosque in Eisa Town, is one of the longest serving MPs and was elected in 2002, 2006 and 2010.