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UN Criticizes Bahrain About Treatment of Dissenters

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay (file)

The United Nations human rights chief on Thursday sharply criticized Bahrain for its treatment and detention of anti-government dissenters.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay is seeking an independent investigation into charges of torture and demanding that Bahrain free activists seized in a crackdown on protests. He also asked that the detained "have prompt access to legal counsel."

Pillay's plea came as a Bahraini court sentenced a man to five years in prison for the attempted murder of a police officer during anti-government protests.

The official Bahrain News Agency said the court found the man guilty Thursday. It also said he is eligible to appeal the sentence.

Earlier this week Tuesday, Bahrain's Justice Minister Khaled bin Ali al-Khalifa said 47 doctors and nurses will go on trial for charges of promoting efforts to bring down the government.

Human rights groups criticized the announcement, saying Bahrain is targeting doctors and medical staff who treated wounded protesters during anti-government demonstrations.

Last week, Bahrain sentenced to death four Shi'ite activists accused of killing police officers during the protests.

Bahraini officials have said 24 people died in the unrest, and the government has arrested hundreds in the aftermath of the protests.

The Bahraini government has imposed martial law and invited troops from mainly Sunni-led neighboring states to help quell the uprising by mostly Shi'ite protesters.

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