DUBAI (Reuters) - Bahrain’s interior ministry found police used “excessive force” during efforts to stop Shi‘ite Muslims attend a prayer gathering earlier this month, it said on Monday.
The minority Sunni-ruled island state has crushed protests by the majority Shi‘ite population which erupted last year. Countering accusations of human rights abuses, police officers have been jailed in the past for mistreating prisoners.
On November 9, police fired teargas and blocked roads to stop thousands of Shi‘ites joining prayers led by one of their spiritual leaders - an event which appeared to flout a ban on rallies imposed a few weeks before.
The interior ministry said its own investigation had found that a group of policemen had physically attacked one man, Hassan Mohammed Abdullah, who was trying to attend the meeting in Bani Jamra, a village west of Bahrain’s capital Manama.
The ministry referred the case to the public prosecutor and the police officers will have a court hearing on November 21, it said.
“The Interior Ministry is committed to the proper treatment of all Bahraini citizens according to international human rights standards and best practices,” the statement said.
It gave no details on Abdullah’s injuries or how he was attacked.
The protests led by Shi‘ites last year were initially put down by the Sunni Muslim monarchy, with martial law and military help from its Gulf neighbours.
Smaller demonstrations have resumed and anti-government protesters clash with security forces several times a week.
Earlier this month, Bahrain had revoked the nationality of 31 men for damaging national security, including leading dissidents, parliamentarians, clerics and human rights lawyers.
Reporting by Amena Bakr; Editing by Robin Pomeroy