Sixty Shia Muslims were handed jail terms or death sentences on charges of forming a terrorist organisation in Bahrain yesterday, local judicial sources said.
According to the Bahrain News Network, two defendants were sentenced to death and 19 to life in prison. The court also sentenced 17 defendants to 15 years in jail, nine to ten years and 11 to five years; and stripped 48 defendants of their citizenship.
Two defendants were acquitted.
"The 60 suspects were put on trial on charges of forming a terrorist group in breach of the law and of joining it even though they were aware of its terrorist purposes. They were trained on the use of weapons and explosives for terrorist purposes and deliberate attempts to murder policemen," BNA said.
A judicial source told AFP that all the defendants were Shia, adding that 36 of them are currently in prison, while the others have been tried in absentia.
Bahraini prosecutors said that the terrorist cell was established in Iran and Iraq.
The small Gulf Kingdom of Bahrain has experienced sporadic waves of turmoil since the suppression of major protests in 2011. The protests were led by the Shia majority, who demanded reforms.
Authorities deny discrimination against Shias and accuse Iran of establishing "terrorist cells" in an attempt to destabilise the Kingdom, which Tehran firmly denies.
The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) said yesterday's sentences were among the harshest issued by a Bahraini court in recent months, pointing out that there are currently 21 Bahraini Shias who had been handed death sentences in absentia, 14 of whom were tried in 2017.