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King of Bahrain orders end to martial law

Three-month-long state of emergency is coming to an end, the monarch declares on the same day 21 people are put on trial for allegedly plotting to overthrow him.

Pro-government posters with images of jailed opposition leaders bearing a sign saying:
Pro-government posters with images of jailed opposition leaders bearing a sign saying: "Disease must be excised from the body of the nation".
Image: AP Photo/Hasan Jamali

BAHRAIN’S KING HAS ORDERED an end to the emergency rule imposed in mid-March to quell a wave of anti-government protests as leading opposition figures went on trial today for plotting against the Gulf state’s monarchy.

Bahrain state TV said the state of emergency will end 1 June in line with a royal decree.

The lifting of the martial laws — two weeks before the three-month emergency rule’s official expiry — seemed to reflect the rulers’ determination to again showcase the kingdom as stable and able to host international events like the Formula One race.

Since martial law was imposed 15 March, authorities have been aggressively pursuing Shiite opposition supporters who staged weeks of street marches earlier this year, demanding greater freedoms, equal rights and an elected government in the strategic island kingdom, home to the US Navy’s 5th Fleet.

Hundreds of protesters, activists, political leaders and Shiite professionals such as doctors and lawyers have been detained.

Late last month, the security court sentenced four protesters to death for killing two policemen in the unrest. Three other opposition supporters were convicted as accomplices in the murders and were sentenced to life in prison.

The 21 opposition leaders and political activists who went on trial today in a special security court set up under the emergency rule face charges of attempting to overthrow the Sunni monarchy.

- AP

Pro-democracy activists in Bahrain go on trial at military court >

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