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MANAMA, Bahrain — A Bahraini opposition leader will go on trial next week on charges of promoting the violent overthrow of Bahrain's political system, his lawyer and authorities said Monday, in a move likely to further inflame unrest in the Gulf kingdom. Sheikh Ali Salman, head of the Shiite Muslim al-Wefaq Islamic Society, will go on trial Jan. 28 after his arrest in late December for leading a protest rally against November elections that his party boycotted.
"The public prosecution’s investigations concluded that the defendant’s actions constituted a clear incitement to carrying out acts of violence against the Kingdom, in support of terrorist attacks that have witnessed the deaths of 14 policemen," according to state news agency BNA. The statement did not name Salman. Defense lawyer Abdallah al-Shamlawi said in a Twitter message Salman was facing four charges including promoting political change by force.
The U.S., a close ally of Bahrain which bases its Fifth Fleet in the Gulf kingdom, has expressed concern over Salman's detention and his arrest has sparked protests at home. On Friday around 150 protesters clashed with security forces in Manama. At least two people were wounded by tear gas canisters, and Al-Wefaq sent journalists photographs of men wounded by birdshot. The Sunni-ruled island has been gripped by political turmoil since a 2011 uprising by majority Shiite Muslims demanding reforms and a bigger role in government.