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Bahrain clears 21 medics of protest charges

Thursday - 3/28/2013, 6:51am  ET

Bahraini anti-government protesters, one carrying a steel rod, move through tear gas fired by riot police during clashes in Sitra, Bahrain, on Wednesday, March 27, 2013. Clashes erupted after the politically charged funeral of Jaffar al-Taweel, 35, who relatives and rights activists say died from excessive tear gas inhalation. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) -- A defense lawyer in Bahrain says 21 medical personnel have been cleared of charges linked to anti-government protests but cases remain open against two others who failed to appear in court.

Arrests of dozens of doctors and nurses were part of the crackdown by the Gulf kingdom's Sunni rulers after an uprising began in 2011 by majority Shiites seeking a greater political voice. International medical groups denounced the arrests.

The medics -- nearly all Shiites -- were charged with taking part in illegal protests and other acts linked to the demonstrations.

Lawyer Abdulla al-Shamlawi says a court Thursday issued the acquittals, but left charges against two who did not appear in court.

In October, five doctors lost their appeals on protest-related charges. Others have been freed or tried in absentia.

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