Defense lawyers balk in Bahrain 'coup plot' trial

January 13, 2011 11:48

Lawyers assigned to defend 25 activists accused of plotting against Bahrain's rulers say they want a ruling on whether they can be forced to handle the trial.

The impasse has stalled the highly sensitive proceedings in the Gulf island kingdom, which hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.Last month, the court was forced to seek new defense lawyers when the original legal team quit to protest alleged torture against their clients.

The new attorneys asked Thursday for a constitutional ruling on whether they can be forced to take on the trial even though the suspects have rejected them.

The Shiite detainees are accused of trying to undermine the minority Sunni dynasty that rules Bahrain.

The next hearing is Jan. 20.

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