in the Gulf kingdom.
Some of the accused have told the court that they were tortured. Rights groups have criticised the government for arresting dissidents and curtailing media freedoms in the run-up to last Saturday's poll. Amnesty Internationale reported that in the months preceding the election as much as 250 people have been arrested.
The original 23 suspects were unexpectedly joined by two other defendants, including the well known blogger Ali Abdulemam (here on a picture taken after his arrest). The men were charged with forming an illegal organisation, resorting to terrorism, financing terrorist activities and spreading false information, according to the indictment.
In the kingdom Bahrain a Sunni minority rules over a Shia majority. This has been causing problems from time to time, as the Shias - who make up 70% of the country's 530,000 citizens - press for greater political power. Parliamentary elections give the Shias only a limited role, as all legislation has to pass a Shura (Senate) in which all members are appointed by the king and the ruling Al-Khalifa family. The Shias complain that they are excluded from any key policymaking roles or top posts in the security forces.