THREE high-profile prisoners facing a retrial in connection with an attempted coup have refused to attend any more court hearings.
They claimed that the Supreme Criminal Appeals Court was biased, pledging to boycott the sessions.
However, judges warned if they went through with the move then court proceedings would resume as normal and a verdict would not be issued in absentia.
An absentia verdict would mean they could contest any outcome.
The men are among 21 convicted in connection with alleged attempts to overthrow the government last year with help from a foreign terrorist organisation, seven of whom are still at large and one was already released.
A Public Prosecution representative told judges yesterday that opposition activist Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, who has ended a managed hunger strike that started in protest against his conviction, had refused to attend the hearings.
Other inmates Hassan Mushaima and Abduljalil Al Singace followed suit and told judges they wanted their lawyers to pull out of the case. Both defendants also claimed they were assaulted in police custody.
However, judges ignored the request and ordered prison guards to bring all three to the next hearing on Tuesday.
Security was beefed up in Manama yesterday for the trial as riot police surrounded the Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments Ministry complex, while National Security Agency officers took up position inside the courtroom.
Mobile phones were not allowed into the court and more than 25 policemen and National Security Agents surrounded the defendants who entered through a separate door.
Also appearing at the hearing were inmates Mohammed Habib Al Saffaf (also known as Al Meqdad) and National Democratic Action Society (Wa'ad) secretary-general Ebrahim Sharif.
The men were convicted and sentenced by the National Safety Court, but their appeal was earlier referred to the Supreme Criminal Appeals Court for review by the Cassation Court.
Eight defendants, including Mr Al Khawaja, were earlier jailed for life for their part in the alleged plot.
Ten others were jailed for 15 years each, while two got five years after being cleared of some of the more serious charges and another was jailed for two years for taking part in illegal gatherings and spreading rumours and lies.
Seven of the suspects, including one sentenced to life behind bars, are still at large having been sentenced in absentia. They include Mr Mushaima's son Ali and Dr Saeed Al Shehabi, who is head of the London-based opposition group the Bahrain Freedom Movement.
One defendant, Al Hur Yousif Al Somaikh, aged in his 20s, was convicted of taking part in an illegal gathering at the former GCC (Pearl) Roundabout, but had his two-year sentence slashed to six months and was released having already spent 12 months behind bars.
Charges initially brought against the 21 included establishing and administrating terror groups to topple the regime and change the constitution, seeking and corresponding with a terrorist organisation abroad, working to commit hostile acts against Bahrain, attempting to forcefully topple Bahrain's royal family and change its constitution and attempting to topple or change the political system.