DUBAI - Bahraini opposition chief Sheikh Ali Salman, in custody for allegedly trying to overthrow the kingdom’s regime, rejected the charges as his trial opened on Wednesday, a judicial source said.

The judge decided to keep Salman behind bars and set the next hearing for February 25, his influential Al-Wefaq bloc said on its Twitter page. Al-Wefaq’s head was arrested on December 28 and his detention has sparked near-daily protests across the kingdom.

Salman has been accused of “promoting the overthrow and change of the political regime by force”, and of inciting disobedience and hatred in public statements.

He was present at Wednesday’s hearing, held under tight security and attended by representatives of several Western embassies as well as reporters.

Salman’s defence team called for his release on bail as the opposition chief pleaded innocent, judicial sources said. His arrest had sparked condemnation from the United States, Iran and international rights groups.