Bahrain's Al-Wefaq opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman speaks during a press conference in the village of Zinj, west of Manama, on October 11, 2014
Bahrain's Al-Wefaq opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman speaks during a press conference in the village of Zinj, west of Manama, on October 11, 2014 © Mohammed al-Shaikh - AFP
Bahrain's Al-Wefaq opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman speaks during a press conference in the village of Zinj, west of Manama, on October 11, 2014
AFP
Last updated: December 29, 2014

Bahrain police quiz Shiite opposition chief

Police in Bahrain grilled the head of the banned Shiite opposition movement Al-Wefaq on Sunday over "violations" of the law ahead of prosecuting him, an interior ministry statement said.

Sheikh Ali Salman was summoned to the criminal investigation department on Sunday morning and questioned about "violating certain aspects of the law", the statement said.

It added that steps were being taken to "refer him to the prosecution" service, but provided no further details.

Salman's lawyer, Abdullah al-Shamlan, tweeted that "Sheikh Ali is on his way to the prosecutor's office" and that he had been prevented from defending his client.

Salman, 49, secured a new four-year term as Al-Wefaq chief at its general congress on Friday.

The same day thousands of Shiites protested along a road linking two of their villages near Manama to call for the dismissal of parliament and the government.

In July, the justice ministry sued Al-Wefaq, demanding that it rectify its "illegal status following the annulment of four general assemblies for lack of a quorum and the non-commitment to the public and transparency requirements for holding them".

The Manama administrative court slapped Al-Wefaq with the ban on October 28 and gave it three months to hold an assembly to elect its leadership.

The ruling came after Al-Wefaq announced it was boycotting a parliamentary election in November, the first in the Gulf state since Sunni authorities crushed Shiite-led pro-democracy protests in 2011.

Al-Wefaq, which withdrew its lawmakers from parliament in protest, denounced the vote as a "farce".

It has called for an elected prime minister who is independent from the ruling royal family.

Bahrain, home base of the US Navy's Fifth Fleet, is ruled by the Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty but the population is majority Shiite.

In 2011 the authorities crushed a month-long pro-democracy protest led by the opposition, but protests continue in Shiite villages outside the capital.

At least 89 people are estimated to have been killed in clashes with security forces, and hundreds have been arrested and put on trial since the uprising.

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