Middle East
Bahrain sentences more activists to jail
Twenty-six more sentenced to jail, raising number to 60 in two days, as officials ban opposition "human chain" protest.
Last Modified: 04 Oct 2011 18:38
After months of protests in the island kingdom, more than 400 people were arrested for their participation [EPA]

A Bahraini security court has sentenced 26 activists to prison for their part in anti-government protests, raising to 60 the total number convicted over the past two days in stepped-up prosecutions.

Bahraini authorities on Tuesday also banned the largely Shia opposition from organising a "human chain" demonstration against the jailing of medics and activists.

The official Bahrain News Agency said Tuesday's verdicts included members of a Shia political group, Al Amal, which was banned by the Sunni monarchy after pro-reform protests began in February.

The three cases involved the alleged kidnapping of policemen and calls to overthrow the Gulf kingdom's regime during a month of demonstrations, the chief military prosecutor said.

Among those listed was cleric Mohammed Habib al-Muqdad, who was also convicted of inciting attacks on policemen in sermons delivered at Pearl Roundabout, the focal point of the protests against the Al Khalifa dynasty.

In another case, four defendants, including Muqdad, were jailed for 10 years after being found guilty of kidnapping policeman Saifullah Ibrahim and taking him to Pearl Roundabout, "parading him in front of people gathering there and then to Salmaniya Medical Complex to incarcerate him", BNA said.

They were also guilty of "spreading false news" through different means including "falsifying images and providing them to satellite channels," it said.

'Human Chain'

A top security official on Tuesday rejected a request by Wefaq, Bahrain's main Shia opposition group, to stage a "human chain" protest because the protest "could cause traffic bottlenecks".

Major General Tareq Mubarak bin Daina, the head of Public Security, said the planned location of the protest was "not suitable security-wise", and that the safety of those participating and using the road could be affected.

Wefaq slammed the ban as "illegal" and called it a constraint on freedom of expression, in a statement posted on its Facebook page.

It said the protest was planned to take place in a secondary road and not on the main road cited in the ban.

Second day in a row

Tuesday's verdicts were issued a day after 36 other Shia were jailed up to 25 years in cases related to the month-long protest which was quashed in mid-March and followed by a wave of arrests.

The same National Safety Court outraged international human rights organisations by condemning 20 medics to up to 15 years in prison for charges including attempting to overthrow the regime.

It had also sentenced 21 opposition leaders and activists to between two and 25 years over plotting to overthrow the regime in the Gulf monarchy.

Scores of Shia were also been tried in the quasi-military court, including at least five sentenced to death for killing policemen.

Authorities said in May that 405 detainees had been referred to courts, while 312 were released.

Topics in this article
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.