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Bahrain sentences 10 Shi’ites to life in prison
MANAMA, Jun 22 (Agencies):
Published on 22 Jun. 2011 10:39 PM IST
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Bahrain sentenced 10 prominent Shi’ite activists and opposition leaders to life in prison on Wednesday on charges of plotting a coup during protests in the Gulf island kingdom earlier this year.
The sentencing could inflame tensions in the Gulf Arab kingdom, where demonstrators have launched small protests every day after emergency law was lifted on June 1. It may also threaten a national dialogue planned to start next month.
Seconds after the verdict was issued, one of 21 defendants lined up in grey prison suits shouted: “We will continue our peaceful struggle.” Other defendants responded by shaking their fists and shouting “peaceful, peaceful.”
Police officers pulled them out of the courtroom.
Some of the defendant’s family members shouted “God is great,” and one woman was dragged out of the courtroom. Her relatives say her whereabouts are unknown.
Among those who received life sentences was Shi’ite dissident Hassan Mushaimaa, leader of the hardline opposition group Haq, and Abduljalil al-Singace from the same party. Haq joined two other groups in calling for the overthrow of the monarchy during mass protests in February and March.
Ibrahim Sharif, the Sunni leader of the secular leftist Waad party, was sentenced to five years in prison. Waad and Bahrain’s largest Shi’ite opposition group Wefaq had called for reform of the monarchy. Representatives from several European embassies as well as the United States were in the courtroom, where other defendants received prison terms ranging from two to 15 years.
The charges ranged from incitement to attempting to overthrow the government by force in collusion with “a terrorist organization” working for a foreign country.
Bahrain’s Sunni rulers, backed by forces from neighboring Sunni Gulf Arab states, crushed weeks of protests in March mostly by members of the Shi’ite majority. Manama says the protests had a sectarian agenda backed by Shi’ite power Iran.
The opposition argues the charges aim to distract Bahrain’s ally the United States, which has its Navy’s Fifth Fleet in the country, from activists’ calls for democratic reform.

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