Middle East

Clashes in Bahrain after death of imprisoned protester

Protesters clashed with riot police in Bahrain after the funeral on Tuesday of a man jailed for taking part in last year's pro-democracy demonstrations.

Witnesses said people threw stones and petrol bombs when officers fired water cannons to stop them reaching the site of Manama's former Pearl Roundabout.

Thousands had earlier attended the funeral of Ali Ahmed Mushaima, 23.

Officials said he died of complications from sickle cell anaemia, for which he had been in hospital since late August.

But opposition groups and activists accused the authorities of causing his death by denying him proper treatment.

"Due to his medical condition, his lawyer had tried more than once... to ensure adequate medical attention for him, but the prison authorities failed to provide such attention," Mohammed al-Maskati, head of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, told Reuters news agency.

Sickle cell anaemia is an inherited genetic condition common among Bahrain's population, which is named after the distinctive - but abnormal - shape formed by red blood cells. It can cause damage to organs, or in some cases, strokes. If not treated, it can be fatal.

Several other Bahraini opposition supporters have died of sickle cell disease while in custody, including two in April 2011, officials say.

Medics 're-arrested'

Ali Mushaima was one of thousands of people detained in a crackdown on dissent in March 2011

Mushaima was one of thousands of people detained last March when the authorities cracked down on protests demanding more democracy and an end to discrimination against the majority Shia Muslim community by the Sunni royal family.

He was subsequently sentenced to seven years in prison for "vandalism, rioting, assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest".

"While incarcerated, Mushaima was treated on more than one occasion at the Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC) for Sickle Cell complications. He was admitted to SMC on 28 August 2012 and remained there until his death early this morning," the ministry of health said on Tuesday evening. "The case has been referred to the Public Prosecution for investigation."

In a separate development on Tuesday, police began re-arresting six of the nine doctors at the Salmaniya Medical Complex who lost appeals against their convictions relating to their alleged role in last year's unrest.

The Court of Cassation upheld on Monday their prison sentences for weapons possession, incitement and taking part in illegal demonstrations. The three others had already been released on time served.

The medics and human rights groups dismissed the convictions as political. Many of the defendants said they had been harassed by the security forces and then tortured in prison, simply for trying to treat people wounded in anti-government protests.

Around the BBC