Bahraini protester died of birdshot wounds-relative

Reuters News

4/23/2012 1:10:26 PM - Reuters News

DUBAI (Reuters) - A Bahraini protester found dead on a rooftop after clashes with police during the Formula One Grand Prix at the weekend apparently was killed by birdshot rounds and his body bore several bruises, his brother said on Monday.

Salah Abbas Habib, 36, was buried later on Monday in a funeral attended by about 15,000 people, a Reuters witness said.

Following the ceremony, hundreds of protesters threw stones at a police station in the district of al-Bilad al-Qadeem in the capital Manama. Police fired teargas and sound grenades.

Bahrain's Interior Ministry said it was launching an investigation into the death of Habib, whose body was found after clashes between police and protesters.

His body was retrieved by his family on Monday and a coroner's report said he had died of birdshot wounds to the chest and abdomen, his brother told Reuters.

"We just got the body back now. He had birdshot wounds in his chest and abdomen," Hussein Abbas Habib said by telephone from Manama, adding that his brother was also badly bruised on his hands, back and legs.

Bahrain, led by the Al Khalifa family, has been in turmoil since mainly Shi'ite pro-democracy protests that erupted last year, which were put down in March 2011 with the help of fellow Sunni-led Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia.

Shi'ites complain they have long been marginalized.

Habib took part in overnight protests on Friday but had to flee after riot police arrived to disperse demonstrators and came after him, his brother said.

He went to hide on the roof of a building, said the brother, citing witnesses. He was found dead soon after that.

Mohammed al-Maskati of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights told Reuters that witnesses said Habib was hit while running away from police.

Sponsors ploughing money into Formula One have been left squirming after the motor sport's rulers ignored human rights concerns and staged the race in Bahrain watched by hundreds of millions of people around the globe.

But Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone said "there is no such thing as bad publicity", putting a positive spin on the race, which drew widespread condemnation from abroad and became a focal point for anti-government protests in the small island kingdom.

(Reporting by Rania El Gamal in Dubai and Hamad Mohammed in Manama; Editing by Michael Roddy)