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Bahrain upholds life sentence against opposition leaders – BNA

King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa in Manama, Bahrain on December 07, 2016. ( Stringer - Anadolu Agency )
King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa attends the closing session of the 37th Leaders Summit by Gulf Cooperation Council member states in Manama, Bahrain on 7 December 2016 [Stringer/Anadolu Agency]

Bahrain’s highest court upheld life sentences against three opposition leaders on charges of spying for Qatar, state news agency BNA and a rights group said today.

Al-Wefaq Secretary-General Sheikh Ali Salman and two senior party leaders, Sheikh Hassan Sultan and Ali Alaswad, were sentenced to life imprisonment in November, overturning a previous acquittal.

The decision was made by the Bahrain’s highest court of appeal, the Court of Cassation.

Al-Wefaq, which has strong links to the country’s Shia Muslim majority, has campaigned for social and political reforms in the country, which is ruled by a Sunni Muslim royal family.

READ: Saudi, UAE, Egypt, Bahrain planned to invade in Qatar in 1996 

Al-Wefaq said in a statement the ruling was made for “political reasons”, Reuters reported.

The London-based human rights group Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) condemned the decision and said it marked the end of a “long, flawed trial”.

Since the Bahrain authorities crushed street protests in 2011, demonstrators have clashed frequently with security forces, who have been targeted by several bomb attacks. Manama says Qatar supports the unrest, accusations denied by Doha.

Sultan and Alaswad were tried in absentia. Salman is already serving a four-year prison sentence for inciting hatred and insulting the interior ministry, after he was arrested in 2015.

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