Bahrain Sunni activist pleads not guilty as trial begins

Ebrahim Sharif was re-arrested three weeks after spending four years in jail for his role in 2011 uprising protests

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A prominent Sunni opposition figure in Bahrain has pleaded not guilty on Monday at the opening of his new trial for “promoting political change through forceful means”, judicial sources in Manama said.

Addressing the Higher Criminal Court, Ebrahim Sharif said the charges against him were based on “assumptions” and not facts.

Sharif, who headed the secular Wa’ad political society, was freed on June 19 after spending four years in jail over his involvement in 2011 Shiite-led anti-government protests.

But he was re-arrested three weeks later for violating the law. Sources say the activist was taken back to prison after he criticized the government during a ceremony for a victim of the unrest that has rocked the kingdom.

Sharif is accused of promoting “violent disorder” in a “direct attempt to undermine stability in the kingdom and overthrow the regime”, among other charges.

The next hearing will take place on October 12.

Sharif played a role in the month-long protests in 2011 and was later among a group of 20 opposition figures who were later tried for plotting to overthrow the Bahraini monarchy.

Sporadic protests and small-scale clashes still persist in Bahrain, while bomb attacks have increased since mid-2012.