x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Bahraini protester tells court he was threatened with rape after arrest

Human rights activist Abdulhadi al Khawaja said he was threatened with rape while in custody after he refused to apologise to Bahrain's king over his role in anti-government protests.

A prominent Bahraini human rights activist said he had been threatened with rape while in custody after he refused to apologise to the king over his role in anti-government protests.

Human rights groups said Abdulhadi al Khawaja, former president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), was removed from a military court on Monday on the third day of his trial after he told the judge about his treatment.

He said that, despite prior complaints, the court had not taken action to secure his safety.

"The judge refused to listen to these statements and Mr al Khawaja was ordered out of the courtroom," the BCHR and Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights said in a joint statement.

The interior ministry media office said no one was available for comment.

Mr al Khawaja is one of 21 activists charged with trying to topple the Sunni-led government during weeks of popular Shiite protests, calling for greater political freedoms, an end to sectarian discrimination and a constitutional monarchy.

Mr al Khawaja has in all three trial sessions so far voiced allegations of abuse but was silenced by the judge on each occasion, the two rights groups said in their statement.