Bahrain activist trial to see verdict next month

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A Bahraini court will next month announce its verdict in the trial of prominent activist Nabeel Rajab whose detention has been condemned by rights groups, a judicial source said Monday.

The Shiite human rights activist, who had been pardoned for health reasons last year, was re-arrested in June and is on trial on charges of insulting a state institution and Saudi Arabia in online postings.

The court is hand down its verdict on October 6, the source said.

During Monday's hearing attended by 51-year-old Rajab, the judge again rejected a request by the activist's defence team to free him, the judicial source said.

The criminal court had repeatedly ordered that Rajab remain in custody throughout the trial, despite recurring health problems for which was briefly hospitalised in late June.

Human Rights Watch has urged Bahraini authorities to "immediately stop the prosecution" of Rajab "who faces up to 15 years in prison solely for charges that violate his right to free expression".

"Bahrain keeping Nabeel Rajab in a prison cell for criticising abuses shows the ruling Al-Khalifa family's deep contempt for basic human rights," said HRW's deputy Middle Ea st director, Joe Stork.

Amnesty International has also denounced what it described as Rajab's "farcical trial".

The activist has been repeatedly detained for organising protests and publishing tweets deemed insulting to Bahrain's Sunni authorities.

He previously served two years in jail on charges of taking part in unauthorised protests in the Shiite-majority kingdom.

Home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet, Bahrain has been rocked by unrest since security forces crushed Shiite-led protests in 2011 demanding a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister.

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