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Bahrain demonstrator jailed for flag 'insult'

Thursday - 5/16/2013, 7:40am  ET

MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) -- A Bahrain demonstrator was sentenced to three months in prison Thursday for hanging a Bahrain flag from his truck during a 2011 rally, a defense lawyer said, in one of the first cases based on tougher codes for alleged insults to the Gulf nation's ruler or symbols.

The specific charges were unclear, but prosecutors argued that draping the flag over the truck during the protest gathering was an offense under the new rules.

Many people in Bahrain, however, fly flags from vehicles during celebrations and other events. Flags also are common during anti-government marches.

In April, Bahrain announced stricter penalties for insulting the Gulf state's king or national symbols. The measures seek to quell more than two years of protests led by Bahrain's majority Shiites seeking a greater political voice in the Sunni-ruled nation.

Defense lawyer Hashim Saleh said 62-year-old Abdulla al-Sayegh plans to appeal the sentence and the 100 dinar ($265) fine. Al-Sayegh acknowledged he attended pro-reform rallies during the early days of the Arab Spring uprising.

On Wednesday, six Twitter users in Bahrain were given one year each in prison for posts deemed offensive to the king.


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