Bahrain court upholds sentences against activists

MANAMA: Bahrain’s highest court has upheld sentences handed down to 13 prominent prodemocracy activists for organizing demonstrations against the ruling Al Khalifa dynasty.

"This verdict is final, there are no more appeals possible, it is the last stage of litigation," lawyer Mohammed al-Jishi told Reuters on Monday. 

A military court originally handed down the sentences in 2011. The rulings, which range from five years in prison to life sentences, were upheld by a civilian court in September 2012. 

Twenty political activists had initially been sentenced, but only 13 of them lodged appeals. Some had been tried in absentia because they were abroad or in hiding. 

Those given life sentences include imprisoned prominent human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja and opposition leader Hassan Mushaima. 

Meanwhile, a number of people gathered outside the court to protest the sentences. 

The Bahraini revolution began in mid-February 2011.

The Bahraini government promptly launched a brutal crackdown on the peaceful protests and called in Saudi-led Arab forces from neighboring states. 

Dozens of people have been killed in the crackdown. Security forces have arrested hundreds of people, including doctors and nurses, accused of treating injured revolutionaries. 

A report published by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry in November 2011, found that the Al Khalifa regime had used excessive force in the crackdown and accused Manama of torturing political activists, politicians, and protesters. 

The protesters say they will continue holding anti-regime demonstrations until their demand for the establishment of a democratically elected government is met.


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