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Bahrain's abuse of dissenters: four detailed cases

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The snatch began with an elaborate setup that involved a woman unknown to Mattar who asked him to pick up an envelope with contents she couldn't describe.

After a rendezvous near a big supermarket, Mattar was driving toward the headquarters of the Wefaq, a Shiite political group, with the woman following, when he looked in the rearview mirror and saw a group of masked men in vehicles near the woman's car.

The masked men overtook him and cut him off. They emerged with submachine guns drawn, surrounded his car, and pointed the weapons at his head.

Mattar, who holds a master's degree in artificial intelligence and computer science, told McClatchy a few days before his arrest that he knew he might be detained. A bright, highly personable, but low-key leader of Wefaq, his name had come up during the secret military trial of seven Shiites accused of killing two Bahraini policemen in mid-March.

In a videotaped confession that was played during the trial, defendant Ali Isa Saqer said that Mattar had encouraged the protesters to run over police. Saqer's "confession," which later was aired on Bahrain's government-controlled television, was delivered in a flat monotone, and he appeared to be under duress. Saqer died April 9 while in detention, one of four detainees who have died while incarcerated. A video of his corpse at the ritual washing ceremony showed signs of severe beatings. The Bahraini government has acknowledged that he died of torture.

Mattar's family also has had no direct contact with him. But a witness said he'd heard Mattar screaming while being severely beaten during his "interrogation" at the same facility. Mattar was limping, looked weak, was blindfolded and in handcuffs, his clothes covered with sweat and blood, said the witness, who couldn't be identified for his own safety.

One question the witness heard fired at Mattar concerned his relations with the international news media. After three weeks, both elected representatives were transferred to the Al Qareen jail in the south of Bahrain, where other prominent opposition figures are being held, a relative of Fairooz's said.

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