Ali Hasan, an 11-year-old boy, will have to wait until 5 July for the verdict over his alleged participation in anti-government protests.

Ali has spent a month in jail, where he took his final school exams, after being charged with joining an illegal gathering and helping protesters erect a barricade during pro-democracy protests in May.

Defence lawyer Shahzalan Khamis has asked for the charges to be dropped.

The boy was arrested on 13 May near his home in suburban Manama. While he denies the charges against him, he said he was forced into making a confession while in detention.

He insists he was playing in the street with his friend on the day he was arrested. He also claims to have been beaten and humiliated when the arrest was made.

Ali is believed to be the youngest Bahraini to stand trial on charges related to the ongoing unrest in the country.

Human Rights Watch has expressed concerns about the case. "He was not accompanied by a lawyer during his questioning," said Mariwan Hama-Saeed, a researcher for the organisation. "It seems the only evidence used against him is his own confession and the testimony of a police officer."

Ali's trial took place as activists and civic representatives have warned about the continuing crackdown on activists and opposition leaders.

Protesters began their calls for political reforms in February 2011. The mass demonstrations they have held have been severely repressed by the government.

After more than a year of protests, the escalating tension in the country threatens to polarise it into a Shiite majority demanding reforms and a Sunni monarchy and minority.

A Bahrain appeals court recently sentenced nine medics accused of aiding Bahrain's anti-government uprising to jail terms, while another nine were set free.

On 17 June, the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights reported that five-year-old Ahmed Mansoor al-Naham had been shot in the eye by riot police.

According to a statement on its website, the boy was helping his father run his fish stall in the village of Al Dair when they were both attacked and shot at by riot police.

Despite numerous reports of the country's security forces committing human rights violations, the international community has exerted little pressure on the Bahraini government.

Bahrain's King Hamad al-Khalifa maintains that he and his government remain committed to reforms.