A Bahraini jailed for taking part in anti-government protests last year died in custody yesterday after being taken to hospital for treatment of a hereditary disease, the interior ministry said. The ministry said on Twitter that Mohammed Mushaima, who was serving a prison term, was pronounced dead at a government hospital, where he was admitted on August 29 "for treatment for sickle-cell anaemia". The major Bahraini opposition bloc, Al-Wefaq, confirmed Mushaima's death, saying he "passed away in custody while serving a seven-year sentence for participating in pro-democracy demonstrations". Thousands of people, mostly from the majority Shiite population, protested last year to call for reforms in the kingdom ruled by the Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty. Lawyers said they had asked the court earlier to release 24-year-old Shiite Mushaima because of his "bad" health, but the court rejected their request. Sickle-cell anaemia, a genetic disorder in which red blood cells form an abnormal sickle shape, is an inherited illness common in Bahrain where the marriage of close relatives is frequent. Several other anti-regime activists have died of the disease while in custody, according to the government, including two in April 2011. This prompted Human Rights Watch to call for an investigation.