Bahrain opposition chief charged with attempted ‘regime change’

SHAFAQNA –The case of Ali Salman, secretary-general of Al Wefaq society, has been referred to the Higher Criminal Court, Bahrain’s Advocate General Nayef Yousif Mahmoud said on Monday.

“The Public Prosecution has formally concluded its investigations into the case of the secretary general of one of Bahrain’s political societies over charges relating to promoting political change using illegal forceful means and threats, in addition to other related charges,” he said. “The case has been referred to the Higher Criminal Court and the trial will start on January 28,” he said in a statement carried by Bahrain News Agency (BNA).

The Public Prosecution said that it had investigated a complaint put forward by the General Directorate of Criminal Investigation and questioned the defendant in the presence of his lawyers.

Ali Salman was arrested on December 28.

“The defendant was presented with evidence underpinning the charges, including recordings of public speeches that promoted political change, confronting state authorities, calls to stage unlawful protests, in addition to incitement to non-compliance with the law,” the advocate general said.

“During the proceedings, the Public Prosecution heard that the defendant had also used public statements to spread extremist views that encouraged the use of force against the Kingdom’s authorities, referring to such acts as a religious duty. It also heard that the defendant had issued multiple calls to his supporters to deploy military tactics currently used elsewhere in the region to overthrow the government. This included a speech during Al Wefaq’s general assembly and on a television channel, in which the defendant conveyed that the opposition was offered military assistance such as the assistance given to members of the Syrian opposition.”

According to the Advocate General, the Al Wefaq leader held meetings when abroad with groups that offered him access to arms, and supported the call for violent unrest in Bahrain.

The defendant has acknowledged the content of these statements, he added.

“The evidence also included public statements made by the defendant that called for the reinstatement and continued work of the disbanded Islamic Council of Scholars, as well as incitement against naturalised Bahraini citizens by accusing them of disloyalty to the Kingdom and committing terrorist acts. He also called for their deportation from Bahrain,” he said.

“The Public Prosecution’s investigations concluded that the defendant’s actions constituted a clear incitement to carrying out acts of violence against the Kingdom, in support of terrorist attacks that have witnessed the deaths of 14 policemen,” he said.

The defendant was questioned in the presence of his lawyers and had been provided with the opportunity to meet his legal team and his family throughout the investigations, he said.

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