Monday, 30 April 2012 12:55
DUBAI: Bahrain's highest appeals court on Monday ordered the retrial of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, a jailed opposition activist who has been on hunger strike since February 8, and other dissidents, their lawyer said.
"The court accepted the appeal (against the verdict of a special tribunal) and ordered a trial in the court of appeal," a civil court, Mohamed al-Jishy told AFP after a brief hearing.
"We were hoping the verdict would be annulled but the decision will give us an opportunity to defend our clients," Jishy said, adding that no date was yet set for the new trial.
Khawaja was jailed with 14 other mostly Shiite activists after being convicted in June last year of plotting to overthrow the Gulf kingdom's Sunni rulers.
Seven others convicted in absentia on similar charges remain at large.
"I think he will not stop this strike as this verdict brought no big change" to his situation, said another lawyer Mohammed al-Tajer.
Khawaja, who has become a symbol of the opposition movement, was arrested last April shortly after the regime crushed a month-long Shiite-led uprising.
On Sunday, Bahrain's military hospital said that he had not been "force-fed" as claimed by members of his family.
"In response to claims made by Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja's family members today, we want to be clear that the patient has not been force-fed or treated against his will," a spokesperson for the Bahrain Defence Forces Hospital said.
Bahrain has repeatedly come under pressure from rights groups as well as Western governments to release Khawaja, who has dual Danish and Bahraini nationality.
But the kingdom has rejected those calls as interference in its internal affairs.
Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2012