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Saudis imprison dozens on terrorism charges

Jail terms ranging from six months to 30 years handed down to 33 people for forming "terror cell", official media says.

Last updated: 10 Jun 2014 11:27
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Hundreds of people have been put on trial in recent months, with many jailed and others sentenced to death [AP]

Saudi Arabia has sentenced 33 people for up to 30 years in prison after finding them guilty of forming a terror cell, among other charges.

State news agency SPA said the 33 were part of a group of 71 people arrested eight years ago on charges of forming a terrorist cell, possession of weapons, plotting prison escapes and accusing the kingdom's rulers of "infidelity".

The group were also convicted of "targeting clerics, princes, and members of the security forces", SPA said.

The 33 were sentenced to prison terms ranging from six months to 30 years, while three of the 71 defendants were acquitted. Some of the alleged members were released on bail pending their trial.

The cell members were arrested in 2006 when security forces raided their hideout in Riyadh's al-Nakheel district after a three-year crackdown on an al-Qaeda insurgency.

The trial is the latest in a series of prosecutions that began in July 2011 for alleged offences committed during the peak of al-Qaeda violence in the kingdom between 2003 and 2006.

In May, security forces uncovered an al-Qaeda group made up of 62 members that was plotting to assassinate officials and attack government targets.

Saudi Arabia has put hundreds of people on trial in recent months, jailing many of them and sentencing others to death.

On Monday, a court in the capital Riyadh sentenced two people to death and jailed a third for 25 years after they were convicted of violence during Shia protests.

Scores of Shia Muslims are on trial after they were detained for anti-government protests in the Eastern province.

Demonstrations in the oil-rich region, where most of the kingdom's two million Shia Muslims live, erupted in 2011 alongside a Shia-led protest movement in neighbouring Bahrain.

They turned violent in 2012 and clashes between police and protesters have so far killed 24 people, including at least four policemen, according to activists.

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