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No jail time for boy in Bahrain accused of protesting

From Mohammed Jamjoom and Salma Abdelaziz, CNN
updated 9:48 AM EDT, Thu July 5, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ali Hasan was arrested on May 14 in Bahrain
  • Authorities accused him of participating in an "illegal gathering"
  • Bahrain clamped down on an uprising inspired by last year's Arab Spring movement

(CNN) -- A preteen arrested and accused of protesting in Bahrain will not get jail time, authorities said Thursday.

The verdict ends the case that had elicited criticism from activists angered that authorities would target an 11-year-old boy.

Police arrested Ali Hasan on May 14 and accused him of participating in an "illegal gathering" with about a dozen others, according to the Persian Gulf kingdom's information office.

On Thursday, a judge said the 11-year-old was free to go home with his family and would not face detention, according to Luma Bashmi, spokeswoman for the president's office.

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The boy will be under observation for the next year and be visited by a social worker every six months, Bashmi said.

Hasan's arrest was part of a government clampdown on protesters in Bahrain.

Rights groups have criticized Bahrain for its crackdown on anti-government protests that started in February 2011 spurred by popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

But the protests failed to gain the traction of other Arab Spring uprisings after Bahraini authorities moved against demonstrators in February and March last year -- backed by troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Protesters and Bahraini authorities have continued to clash, with the opposition accusing the government of being heavy-handed.

In November, Bahrain's Independent Commission of Inquiry issued a report highly critical of the crackdown.

The commission, set up by the king, concluded that police had used excessive force and torture last year. The report recommended reforms to the country's laws and better training of its security forces.

Boy, 11, detained in Bahrain crackdown

CNN's Saad Abedine contributed to this report.

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