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Middle East

Bahrain emergency to be lifted 1 June as opposition face military court

media King Hamad Al-Khalifa Reuters/Stephanie McGehee

Emergency rule in Bahrain is to be lifted on 1 June, state news agency BNA says. Earlier Sunday opposition leaders appeared before a military court, charged with forming a terrorist organisation which aimed to overthrow the monarchy.

King Hamad Al-Khalifa on Sunday ordered that the state of emergency will be lifted at the end of the month.

The trial of the 21 - seven of whom are abroad and to be tried in absentia - was adjounred until Thursday.

Only lawyers and two members of the family of each defendant were allowed to attend the trial, according to the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights. Lawyers are banned from talking to the media, the organisation said.

The group includes both Sunni and Shia Muslims – the majority of the counrty’s population is Shia, while the ruling Khalifa family is Sunni.

They are charged with "forming and directing a terrorist group aimed at overthrowing and changing the constitution of the state and the monarchy system," the official news agency, BNA, said.

They are also accused of "having contact with a terrorist group abroad that operates in the interest of a foreign country by conducting hostile acts against the kingdom of Bahrain" and
"raising funds for the terrorist group despite knowing" the nature of the organisation.

Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have accused Iran of being behind the protests which erupted in mid-February.

A military court last month sentenced four protesters to death and three others to life in jail after finding them guilty of killing two police officers. Last week another was sentenced to seven years after being found guilty of attempting to murder a police officer.

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