State prosecutors in Bahrain are opening their case against 23 Shiite Muslim activists accused of plotting to overthrow Sunni rulers in the tiny Gulf nation.
The trial beginning Thursday in Bahrain's capital Manama is a potential flashpoint after more than two months of harsh crackdowns against majority Shiites in this strategic nation that hosts the U.S. 5th Fleet.
Sunni authorities fear Shiites seek to challenge their power and worry about possible links to Iran. Shiites say they only seek a greater political voice and are fighting discrimination.
In Bahrain's parliamentary elections last week, Shiites held onto their seats but are not expected to gain enough allies for a majority. The second round of voting is Saturday.