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Top Bahrain court upholds life jailings

January 28, 2019

Bahrain has upheld lifelong jail terms imposed on three opposition figures, including a prominent Shiite cleric involved in pro-democracy protests crushed in 2011. The other two are living in exile.

Ali Salman
Image: Reuters/H. I Mohammed

Sheikh Ali Salman, the secretary-general of the outlawed Al-Wefaq political party, on Monday lost his appeal against a life sentence before Bahrain's highest court.

The supreme court upheld the verdict against Salman and two other exiled Al-Wefaq leaders accused of spying for estranged neighbor Qatar.

Sheikh Hassan Ali Juma Sultan and Ali Mahdi Ali al-Aswad were jailed for life in absentia last November, overturning their previous acquittals.

Read moreOpposition absent as Bahrain votes

Al-Wefaq — dissolved by court order in 2016 — had had links to Bahrain's Shiite Muslim minority and had campaigned for reforms in the Sunni-ruled Gulf kingdom until crushed in 2011 by a Saudi-led intervention.

Amnesty International described Monday's verdicts as "yet another nail in the coffin for the right to freedom of expression in Bahrain and exposes the country's justice system as a complete farce."

Bahrain demonstrators run for cover
December 2011: demonstrators run for coverImage: picture-alliance/dpa

Bahrain urged to release Salman

Britain-based Bahraini opposition figures urged western countries to press Bahrain's King Hamad to release Salman and others arrested since 2011.

Those so-called Arab Spring protests were put down with the assistance of security forces from Saudi Arabia and the Emirates. At least 80 people died, the International Federation of Human Rights said at the time. Sporadic Shiite-led demonstrations followed.

Bahrain hosts the US Navy's 5th Fleet and a British naval base and is one of four Arab countries that have boycotted Qatar since June 2017.

ipj/rt (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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