Shi’ite bail hearing adjourned

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A Nigerian court adjourned a bail hearing for the leader of a banned Shi’ite Muslim group, which says at least 20 followers died in clashes with police last week while protesting to demand his release.

Supporters of Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) leader Ibrahim Zakzaky say he should be released on bail to receive medical treatment in Egypt. The court in Kaduna adjourned the bail hearing until August. 5.

Zakzaky was arrested after a 2015 clash when the army killed an estimated 350 of his followers at his compound and a nearby mosque and burial ground in northern Kaduna state. He remains in detention despite a December 2016 court order to release him.

Zakzaky’s lawyer, Femi Falana, said eight medical reports attached to the bail application showed Zakazy requires urgent medical attention in Egypt.

“Doctors confirm he has lost an eye and the second one may be lost on account of advanced glaucoma. Secondly, pellets in his body have not been removed,” said Falana. He said the pellets, shrapnel from the 2015 clash, was causing lead poisoning.

Prosecution lawyer Dari Bayero said authorities oppose the bail application and believe Nigeria’s medical facilities can treat the religious leader’s ailments.

IMN was banned over the weekend for inciting violence after clashes with police at protests. The group said at least 20 people died in clashes last week. Police did not give a death toll.

The IMN is the largest Shi’ite group in Nigeria, where around half the population is Muslim, overwhelmingly Sunni.