Middle East

Bahrain police go on trial over death of blogger

Zakariya Rashid Hassan al-Ashiri
Image caption Zakariya al-Ashiri ran an online news website with a focus on human rights

The trial has begun in Bahrain's capital, Manama, of five police officers implicated in the death in custody of a blogger last year.

Zakariya Rashid Hassan al-Ashiri died on 9 April, seven days after he had been arrested as part of a crackdown on pro-democracy activists in the kingdom.

The authorities originally said that Mr Ashiri had died from complications resulting from sickle cell anaemia.

But photos showed significant bruises on his body consistent with beatings.

Mr Ashiri, a Shia Muslim, ran an online news website with a focus on human rights, business and culture.

At the time of his arrest he was charged with inciting hatred against the government and the promotion of sectarianism.

His death in custody provoked an international outcry.

The charges against two of the officers relate to administering a beating that led to Mr Ashiri's death. If convicted, the officers face a maximum sentence of seven years.

The other three officers have been charged with failure to report a crime to the appropriate authorities.

Their case was adjourned to 30 January to allow time for lawyers to be appointed to represent them.

In another incident that has not been brought to court, Karim Fakhrawi, the publisher of the independent newspaper Al Wasat, died in detention on 12 April.

At the time, the government said his death resulted from kidney failure. But photographs of his body also showed signs of beating.