Bahrain lawyer presses to visit hunger striker

Associated Press
Anti-government protesters hold pictures of jailed political leader Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who has been on a hunger strike for more than 70 days, during a march through Jidhafs, Bahrain, on Tuesday, April 24, 2012. Witnesses said police in Bahrain have used tear gas and water cannons to disperse hundreds of protesters calling for al-Khawaja's release.The Arabic on the pictures reads: "Freedom for al-Khawaja."  (AP Photo / Hasan Jamali)
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MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — The lawyer for a jailed Bahraini activist on a lengthy hunger strike said Thursday he will seek a court order granting him visiting rights to his client.

In violence Thursday, demonstrators threw firebombs at a police station in the capital.

Activists warn that Abdulhadi al-Khawaja is in danger after a nearly three-month hunger strike. The regime says he is in good condition.

The attorney, Mohamed al-Jishi, said he last saw al-Khawaja on April 4 and accused authorities of blocking visits since. Al-Jishi said he plans to petition an appeals court to authorize his access to al-Khawaja.

The protest by al-Khawaja, who has been on hunger strike since Feb. 8, has become a powerful rallying point for Bahrain's opposition demonstrators.

Al-Khawaja and seven others were sentenced to life in prison last year as part of a crackdown against an uprising by Bahrain's majority Shiites, who claim systematic discrimination at the hands of the Western-allied Sunni monarchy. At least 50 people have died in unrest since February 2011 on the strategic island nation, which is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.

On Wednesday, Bahrain authorities claimed al-Khawaja was in "good health" and receiving medical care. Opposition groups have expressed concern that his condition was sharply deteriorating.

Earlier this month, Bahrain rejected a request by Denmark to take custody of al-Khawaja, 51, who is also a Danish citizen.

An appeal hearing is scheduled on Monday for al-Khawaja and others, including the seven activists sentenced to life in prison.

Also Thursday, protesters threw firebombs at a police station in the capital, Manama, following a mourning procession for Salah Abbas Habib Musa, a 36-year-old vegetable seller whose body was found last week near the scene of clashes between demonstrators and security forces. Opposition groups claim he was killed by riot police.

No major damage was reported in the attack on the police station.

In a separate development, a court set May 10 for the next session in the retrial of 20 medical professionals who were convicted of anti-state crimes and sentenced to five to 15 years in prison.

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