A senior Bahraini opposition politician was temporarily freed on Thursday by the court trying him on charges that include inciting terrorism, in a surprise conciliatory ruling in the U.S.-allied Gulf Arab state, Reuters reported.
Khalil al-Marzouq, a former parliament member, was detained in September by police investigating his alleged promotion of terrorism, causing outcry from his al-Wefaq party, Bahrain’s largest opposition group.
Thousands of people marched in the tiny Gulf kingdom of Bahrain, demanding more reforms in the country.
Al-Marzooq was among the protesters Friday.
Protesters chanted anti-government slogans Friday and some masked youths confronted police. An Associated Press journalist saw police fire tear gas at demonstrators and use stun grenades.
On Tuesday, Wefaq said Marzouq’s trial shows “the political persecution and exclusion the authorities are practicing”, accusing them in a statement of “taking advantage of their power for vengeful purposes against those demanding democracy”.
The arrest of Marzouq prompted the Wefaq party to suspend its participation in talks with the government aimed at ending the turmoil in Bahrain, which hosts the U.S. Fifth Fleet.
Marzouq, appearing in court for the first time amid tight security, denied all charges. The judge said he could go free until his next hearing on November 18.
His wife, speaking at the courtroom after the ruling, said Marzouq was due to be released later on Thursday.
“There are usually no releases in similar cases when it is related to terrorism charges, but I think such a ruling was intended to placate public opinion,” said Mohammed al-Maskati, head of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights.
Wefaq, which says it advocates non-violent methods, demands a constitutional monarchy with a government chosen from within a democratically elected parliament.
HRW censures Bahrain’s use of tear gas
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch says Bahraini regime forces have used tear gas ‘disproportionately’ and ‘unlawfully’ in their clampdown on anti-regime protests in the Persian Gulf kingdom.
According to Press TV, The rights group said security forces in Bahrain have “repeatedly used tear gas disproportionately and sometimes unlawfully in suppressing anti-government demonstrations” since the beginning of the popular uprising in the country over two years ago.
According to the New York-based rights group, the excessive use of tear gas by police in Bahrain “has been implicated in more than a dozen deaths and serious injuries.”
The HRW report was released after the Bahrain Watch organization leaked documents exposing a tender issued by Bahrain’s Interior Ministry in June to purchase 1.6 million tear gas shells, 90,000 tear gas grenades and 145,000 sound and flash grenades. Bahrain has a population of 1.2 million.
South Korea and a joint South African-German company are the main suppliers of tear gas to the Persian Gulf kingdom, according to the Bahrain Watch.
The Bahraini uprising began in mid-February 2011.
Protesters initially called for political reform and a constitutional monarchy, a demand that later changed to an outright call for the ouster of the ruling Al Khalifa family following its brutal crackdown on popular protests.
Last year, Physicians for Human Rights said in a report that the “extensive and persistent use” of tear gas in the Persian Gulf country was “unprecedented in the 100-year history of tear gas use against civilians.”
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