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Bahrain fires MP critical of prison conditions

The sacking follows an argument the MP had with fellow parliamentarians over jail conditions facing Shiite detainees
Bahraini House of Representatives' Speaker, Khalifa bin Ahmed Al-Dhahrani (L) (AFP)

Bahrain's parliament on Tuesday sacked its first-ever parliamentarian, with analysts saying it was a result of critical comments he had made about prison conditions.

Parliament speaker Khalifa al-Dhahrani said 31 MPs out of the 40-member chamber voted to eject Osama Mehanna, in a statement published by BNA state news agency.

Dhahrani did not disclose the reason behind his removal.

Political sources pointed to a fierce argument Mehanna had with fellow MPs on 29 April after he criticised the situation at Jaw Prison, in southeastern Bahrain.

Most of the inmates are Shiites held over roles in anti-regime protests.

Mehanna was elected in October 2011 in partial polls held to replace 18 MPs of the Shiite Al-Wefaq opposition group who resigned in protest at violence used to quell a month of pro-reform protests.

Scores of Shiites were rounded up following the mid-March 2011 crackdown on protesters, with many put on trial and jailed.

The Sunni-ruled kingdom has been widely criticised by rights groups for the alleged mistreatment of detainees following its crackdown on the Shiite-led protests.

Amnesty International on Monday voiced concerns over the "continuing detention of prisoners of conscience and the harsh sentences handed by Bahraini courts in connection with rioting, including against children".

The watchdog said, however, that it "found encouraging government openness during discussions on human rights", as an Amnesty delegation was allowed to visit the country for the first time since January 2013.

The delegates met "prisoners of conscience" at Jaw Prison and women held in the Issa Town Detention Centre for Women, it said in a statement.

A Bahraini activist was killed in a mysterious explosion in capital Manama earlier in May. Local media reported that Ali Fasial al-Ekrawi, who is wanted by the Bahraini authorities, had been killed in an as-yet-unexplained explosion.

Bahrain, home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet, remains deeply divided three years after the quashed uprising, with persistent protests sparking clashes with police, scores of Shiites jailed on "terror" charges and reconciliation talks deadlocked.

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