A Canadian sentenced last October in Bahrain to five years in prison for taking part in anti-government protests has now been found not guilty on appeal.
Naser Bader al-Raas, a Canadian national of Kuwaiti origin sentenced to five years in prison for inciting hatred towards the regime, participating in illegal gatherings and giving false information to the media was found not guilty of all charges in his appeal verdict on 16 February.
Naser Bader al-Raas was sentenced on 25 October 2011, together with another 12 defendants, for charges linked to his participation in protests in March 2011. He went into hiding after the verdict was announced on 25 October. On 24 January 2012, the High Criminal Court of Appeal in the capital, Manama, acquitted the rest of the group of all charges, but Naser Bader al-Raas lost his right to appeal because he was not present in court. His lawyer petitioned the Court for a review of this decision. On 1 February he appeared before the High Criminal Court of Appeal and was arrested and sent to prison. He was released on bail on 6 February pending a final verdict.
He had been previously arrested on 20 March 2011 and detained for one month. He said he was subjected to torture and other ill-treatment during his initial detention.
On 16 February, Naser told Amnesty International: "I would like to thank Amnesty International, Amnesty International Canada and the people of Canada and all Amnesty members for fighting for me. I’d like to thank everyone who fought for me without knowing me. I now believe in those who fight for justice. Thank you so much."