Head of Bahrain's main Shi'ite Muslim group said to have been remanded in custody for a further week
The head of Bahrain's main Shi'ite Muslim opposition group, detained on Sunday after leading a protest rally over last month's elections, has been remanded in custody for a further week, a group official said on Tuesday.
In Geneva, the United Nations human right office said it was concerned at the detention and potentially lengthy prison sentence that could be handed to Sheikh Ali Salman, secretary general of al-Wefaq Islamic Society.
"Opposition parties are fundamental pillars of any democracy and Sheikh Salman's arrest risks intensifying the fraught political scene that has seen anti-government protests for nearly four years," a spokeswoman for U.N. Human Rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein Zeid's office said in a statement.
"His lawyers say he is accused of a number of serious charges that carry hefty prison terms, including calling for the overthrow of the government," she said.
The island kingdom, where the US Fifth Fleet is based, has been gripped by tension since 2011 protests led by majority Shi'ite Muslims demanding reforms and a bigger role in running the Sunni-led country.
Bahrain has faced sporadic unrest since authorities quelled the 2011 protests with support from other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Demonstrations have increasingly given way to bomb attacks on the security forces. At least two people were killed in two separate attacks this month.
Salman was detained on Sunday after he led a rally last week to protest against last month's general elections, which the opposition boycotted.
Al Wefaq had said it would not take part in the poll because parliament would not have enough power and because voting districts favoured the kingdom's Sunni Muslims.
Al Wefaq media official Taher al-Moussawi said Salman's detention had been extended for a week.
One of Salman's lawyers, Abdullah al-Shamlawi, said on his Twitter account the prosecution had decided to detain Salman for a week and that questioning would continue on Wednesday.
Bahrain's public prosecution said on its Twitter account the secretary general of one of the political societies would be held for seven days for questioning. It did not name Salman.