Bahrain court upholds jail term for 13 activists
MANAMA - Agence France-PresseBahrain’s highest appeals court yesterday upheld prison terms for 13 prominent activists on charges of plotting to overthrow the monarchy, in a verdict the opposition warned would fuel unrest.
The Court of Cassation rejected the appeals of the 13 opposition leaders, seven of whom have been jailed for life, the lawyers said. Among those serving life terms is well-known activist Abdulhadi Khawaja, who last year embarked on a hunger strike to protest his imprisonment, finally ending it in June after 110 days. Two others sentenced to life are Hassan Mashaima, head of the Shiite opposition Haq movement and Abduljalil al-Singace, a member of the same group. The opposition swiftly condemned the verdicts.
“The judgments confirm the need for radical reform” in the government that sentences “dissenting opinion to life imprisonment,” tweeted Ali Salman, head of Bahrain’s main Shiite opposition bloc Al-Wefaq.
Witnesses said that Bahraini police were heavily deployed around the court yesterday as several opposition leaders staged a protest nearby, chanting, “We demand the release of the prisoners” and “we will not forget the prisoners.” The 13 activists took part in 2011 anti-government protests and were convicted by a military tribunal on charges that included “setting up terror groups to topple the regime.”