Bahrain says detainee dies in police custody

DUBAI Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:58am EST

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DUBAI (Reuters) - Bahrain's Interior Ministry said on Thursday that a man detained by police over "acts of sabotage" died in hospital while in custody, without elaborating on the cause of death.

On its Twitter feed, the ministry said the public prosecutor's office had been informed of the death. It gave no further details.

Bahrain last year crushed protests led by its Shi'ite Muslim majority demanding an end to sectarian discrimination and limits to the authority of the Sunni ruling family, relying in part on backing from troops from fellow Sunni-led Gulf monarchies.

More than a thousand people were detained in the crackdown, at least four of whom died in official custody. An inquiry Bahrain commissioned into the protests and government crackdown found systematic abuse of detainees, including torture.

The ministry said last month it would begin recording the questioning of detainees in line with the recommendations of the inquiry, which also disputed Bahrain's claim that the protests were fomented by Iran through its Shi'ite coreligionists.

Washington, which bases its Fifth Fleet on the Gulf island, has linked a $53 million arms sale to the kingdom's response to the inquiry. Bahrain has said it is implementing the inquiry's recommendations, but the top U.N. human rights official argues that Bahrain is not punishing those behind abuses.

(Writing by Joseph Logan; editing by Sami Aboudi)

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