Manama: An international panel investigating Bahrain`s unrest closed its office on Tuesday after
an angry crowd scuffled with staff members following reports that government officials would be cleared of committing abuses against protesters seeking greater rights.
A statement issued by the Bahrain Commission of Inquiry said, no conclusions have been made and that probes will continue into the Shiite-led demonstrations with the sweeping crackdowns by the Sunni monarchy in the Gulf island nation.
But the commission said its main office will be shut and vowed it "will not allow itself to be used as a political tool" by either side.
The decision was made by the five-member commission, which includes international judicial and human rights experts underscores the hair-trigger tensions in the strategic kingdom, which is home to the US Navy`s 5th Fleet. Clashes have been occurred nearly every other night since the first round of reconciliation talks ended last month with little progress.
Shiites comprises about 70 per cent of Bahrain`s 525,000 people, but have been blocked from top political and security posts, claiming election districts are gerrymandered to prevent a
Shiite majority in parliament. At least 32 people have been killed, since protests began in February inspired by other Arab uprisings.
The investigating commission that began working last month with the consent of the ruling monarchy said hundreds of people stormed the commission`s office yesterday and threatened staff members after local media reports claimed investigators found no evidence of crimes against humanity by authorities. The commission however denied reports saying it is entire false.
"While the commission`s staff is committed to conducting its investigation, it will not jeopardise the security of the individuals who work at the office," said the statement by the commission, which is headed by Mahmoud Cherif Bassiouni, an Egyptian-born professor of international criminal law and a former member of UN human rights panels.
The commission said the office closure is "temporary," giving no indication on, when it could reopen. It said it will now conduct interviews with witnesses by prearranged appointments rather than at a central location.
The commission`s findings is expected around October 30.