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Sun 6 Nov 2011 11:29 AM

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Bahrain frees Iraqi footballer after seven months

Zulfiqar Naji, 17, was freed as ‘goodwill gesture’ to mark Eid al-Adah celebrations

Bahrain frees Iraqi footballer after seven months
Photo for illustrative purposes only

Bahrain has freed a teenage Iraqi footballer player detained
for seven months on suspicion of participating in pro-democracy protests earlier
this year, it was reported Sunday.

Abdulameer Naji told The Associated Press that his son
Zulfiqar Naji, now 17, was released Saturday as a goodwill gesture from the
Bahraini government to mark Eid al-Adha.

"He was released because he was innocent and this
represents a goodwill gesture on the occasion of Eid," his father told the
newswire.

More than 300 prisoners were pardoned to mark the Muslim
holiday, AP said.

Bahrain in March imposed martial law and called in troops
from its Gulf neighbours in a bid to quell weeks of unrest amid pro-reform
demonstrations.

Around 40 people have died, more than 1,000 detained and
thousands lost their jobs in the unrest, which has continued despite the
reforms promised by the national dialogue.

The head of a rights commission set up to investigate allegations
of human rights violations in Bahrain said last week he had found evidence of
systematic abuse against protestors.

Cherif Bassiouni said he had found “300 cases of torture, and
I was helped in that by legal experts from Egypt and America".