World Bulletin / News Desk
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.
Unrest has gripped Bahrain since a 2011 uprising led by its Shi'ite majority demanding reforms and more share in government in the kingdom ruled by the al-Khalifa dynasty.
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 Nov. 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.
Talks between the government and its opponents began in February, but have failed to resolve the political crisis, with the two sides still mistrustful and apparently far apart on the opposition's main demand for an elected government.
Wefaq, which says it advocates non-violent methods, demands a constitutional monarchy with a government chosen from within a democratically elected parliament.
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".
At one event, Marzouq had raised the flag of the February 14 Coalition, a network of people who use social media to organise anti-government protests, Yousfi said, describing the group as a terrorist organisation.
The coalition is named after the date when mass pro-democracy protests erupted in Bahrain in 2011, inspired by Arab revolts in Tunisia and Egypt. The authorities quelled the uprising a month later, with the help of Saudi security forces.Last Mod: 24 Ekim 2013, 15:30