|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.
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.