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Prominent Bahraini Activist Faces Trial

Bahraini human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja walks near the Manama, Bahrain, courthouse during a trial for several opposition members, December 9, 2010 (file photo)

A daughter of a prominent human rights activist says she believes her father's trial has begun in Bahrain, amid a crackdown against anti-government protesters.

Zainab al-Khawaja said Thursday that her father had phoned her the previous day and informed her about the start of his case. However, she says Bahraini officials would not confirm that the trial of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja got underway on Thursday.

Family members say Khawaja was arrested earlier this month, in the midst of a government backlash on pro-democracy demonstrations.

Rights groups and family members said armed men, believed to be police, stormed into Khawaja's home and beat him unconscious before removing him from the residence, along with two of his sons-in-law. Bahrain authorities have not confirmed the incident.

Khawaja has held leadership positions with several rights groups, including the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. On Thursday, the group released a statement condemning what it called "excessive violence" during Khawaja's arrest and the "arbitrary measures" that have been taken against him.

Protests in Bahrain have been led by the country's Shi'ite majority, which has been demanding a greater stake in the country's Sunni-led government.

Earlier this month, Bahraini officials said 24 people had been killed during anti-government demonstrations.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.

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