x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

King of Bahrain orders independent inquiry into protests

King Hamad tells cabinet: 'We still need to look at what happened to know all the details of February and March and evaluate those events as they really were.'

MANAMA // Bahrain's king ordered the formation of an independent fact-finding team yesterday, to investigate weeks of protests that rocked the country this year, the state news agency said.

The announcement comes ahead of a national dialogue, due to start on Saturday, which the government hails as a chance for reforms and reconciliation after Bahrain's Sunni rulers cracked down on the protests, led mostly by the Shiite majority.

"We still need to look at what happened to know all the details of February and March and evaluate those events as they really were," King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa said, speaking at an extraordinary cabinet session.

The king said in a statement released by Bahrain News Agency that Bahrain had consulted the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on establishing the committee.

"For there were victims of violence whom we cannot forget. A lack of confidence has prevailed and vision has been blurred by rumours."

Also yesterday, Bahrain's special security tribunal examining the appeals of 21 opposition leaders convicted of plotting against the state adjourned the hearing until September 11.

Last week's convictions include life sentences for eight prominent Shiite politicians.

* Reuters with additional reporting by Associated Press