Detainee in Bahrain ‘died’ of natural causes: ministry

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, July 31, (Agencies): A detainee being held in the Gulf island kingdom of Bahrain has died while in custody, authorities announced Sunday. The Ministry of Interior said in a statement that the unidentified detainee died of natural causes after being taken to the Salmaniya Medical Complex.

It gave no further details on the circumstances of his death other than that he was suffering from an unspecified “medical condition” and had been referred to a doctor. Questions sent to the ministry seeking clarification went unanswered. Opposition activists and rights groups have previously alleged that some detainees face torture in the country, which hosts the US Navy’s 5th Fleet. The government says it is opposed to any kind of mistreatment. In a separate statement, police said they arrested Majeed alMishal, a Shiite cleric, for allegedly inciting others to “break the law and take part in an illegal gathering.”

He is one of several religious leaders targeted in the last crackdown. In May, an appeals court more than doubled to nine years the prison term for Sheikh Ali Salman, who was al-Wefaq’s secretary-general. Authorities have moved to strip the citizenship of another senior cleric, Sheikh Isa Qassim, who is also being tried on charges of money laundering related to the collection of religious taxes.

The Interior Ministry said earlier this month that it had arrested two men suspected of planting the bomb on June 30 that killed the woman while she was travelling through the village. Her three children were wounded. The ministry said a third suspect in the blast had fled to Iran, a Shi’ite Muslim power across the Gulf from Sunni Muslim-ruled Bahrain. A Bahraini human rights group challenged the official version of events, citing “conflicting narratives”.

Opposition activists have said on social media that witnesses reported seeing security forces fire on the woman’s car after it accidentally neared a royal convoy. Home to the Gulf-based US Fifth Fleet, Bahrain has been plagued by sporadic violence and bomb attacks largely aimed at security forces since 2011, when the government put down mass prodemocracy unrest by members of the majority Shi’ite community.

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