Oman protesters seek prosecution of those behind killings

MUSCAT Wed Apr 6, 2011 5:44am EDT

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MUSCAT (Reuters) - Omani protesters asked the public prosecutor on Wednesday to charge members of the security forces responsible for killing two demonstrators in separate clashes in the northeast industrial city of Sohar.

One protester died and eight were wounded when security forces opened fire into a crowd of stone-throwing protesters on Friday, three days after police cleared them from their base at two roundabouts.

Security forces also arrested up to 60 people, some as young as 17, and chief prosecutor Hussain Al Hilali said that they would appear in court charged with violent misconduct.

On February 27, security forces opened fire on protesters in Sohar and killed a 38-year-old businessman.

"If the chief prosecutor can be bold enough to bring charges against the detained protesters, then he should have the fairness to bring charges against members of the security forces who killed the two demonstrators," Salim Al Amri, one of the protesters demonstrating at a sit-in outside the Shura Council's headquarters in Muscat, told Reuters.

"We want the government to name the members of the security forces who killed these two protesters. They should not be protected," Khalaf Al Saadi, another protester, said.

Protests in Oman, which follow unrest elsewhere in the region, have focused on demands for better wages, jobs and an end to corruption. Many protesters have demanded that the government prosecute sacked ministers for corruption.

Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who has ruled for 40 years, has embarked on a series of reforms since the protests started six weeks ago.

He sacked 12 ministers and replaced five of them with members of the Shura Council, an elected part of parliament with few powers that many protesters see as a legitimate assembly that should form the entire cabinet.

The Sultan also ordered a grant of 150 rials ($375) unemployment benefit to the jobless. He raised civil service pay and pensions of government employees and doubled social security allowances.

(Reporting by Saleh Al-Shaibany; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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