Verdict on dissolving Bahrain opposition group due next week
MANAMA - A Bahraini court will hand down its verdict next week in the government's bid to dissolve the main opposition group Al-Wefaq, accused of harbouring "terrorism," a judicial source said Monday.
The date of July 17 was set as the court convened in the absence of the defence team which walked out last month in protest at the government's push to accelerate the process.
The United States has called on Bahrain to reconsider the move to dissolve Al-Wefaq, which it has called "alarming".
Al-Wefaq was the largest bloc in parliament before its lawmakers resigned in protest at the crushing of 2011 protests calling for an elected government in the Sunni-ruled kingdom.
The justice ministry has accused the Shiite bloc of providing a haven for "terrorism, radicalisation and violence" and opening the way for "foreign interference" in the kingdom's affairs.
That was an allusion to Iran, which Bahrain accuses of fomenting unrest among its Shiite majority.
Tiny but strategic Bahrain lies just across the Gulf from Iran and is the home base of the US Fifth Fleet.
In May, an appeals court more than doubled a four-year prison sentence handed down against Al-Wefaq leader Ali Salman on charges of inciting violence.
Meanwhile, authorities on Monday freed Sunni opposition leader Ibrahim Sharif after he served a one-year jail term for anti-regime incitement, opposition activists said.
Sharif, who headed the secular Waed party, already served four years of a five-year sentence over the 2011 protests before being released under a royal amnesty in June last year.
But he was re-arrested the following month after he addressed a memorial service for one of those killed during the suppression of the Arab Spring-inspired demonstrations in February-March 2011.