• Thursday, Oct 01, 2020
  • Last Update : 01:27 am

Bahrain Shia opposition leader loses appeal against life term

  • Published at 09:11 pm January 28th, 2019
Bahrain-life sentence-Sheikh Ali Salman
Bahrain's main opposition party Al Wefaq leader Sheikh Ali Salman speaks to Reuters at the party's headquarters in Bilad Al Qadeem, west of Manama Reuters

Bahrain in 2017 cut all ties with Qatar as part of a Saudi-led boycott in response to what Riyadh and its allies say are Doha's policies on Iran and Islamist groups

Bahrain's Supreme Court, whose verdicts are final, on Monday upheld a life sentence for Shia opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman for spying for Gulf rival Qatar, the public prosecutor said.

Salman, who headed the Shia Al-Wefaq group, was convicted by an appeals court in November in a ruling that rights groups called a travesty.

The supreme court confirmed the verdict against Salman and two of his aides for "spying for a foreign state in order to... overthrow the government," according to a statement released by public prosecutor Osama al-Awfi.

Bahrain in 2017 cut all ties with Qatar as part of a Saudi-led boycott in response to what Riyadh and its allies say are Doha's policies on Iran and Islamist groups.

A tiny Gulf archipelago, allied with the US and located between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran, Bahrain has been hit by waves of unrest since 2011, when security forces crushed Shia-led protests demanding a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister.

Ruled for more than two centuries by the Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty, Bahrain has a majority Shia Muslim population according to unofficial estimates contested by the government.

Bahraini authorities accuse Tehran of inciting anti-government rallies and have said jailed protesters have been trained in and armed by Iran, which denies the allegations.

Aides sentenced in absentia

Salman's aides Ali al-Aswad and Hassan Sultan, who had been sentenced to life in absentia, also lost their appeals Monday. Both men are former members of parliament and reside outside of Bahrain.  

Qatar has repeatedly denied accusations of conspiring against Bahrain with Salman.

The Gulf diplomatic row is now in its second year. Doha has denied accusations it supports Iran and radical Islamist groups. Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have banned their citizens from travel to Qatar.

Salman's Al-Wefaq was dissolved by court order in 2016. The cleric is currently serving a four-year sentence in a separate case on charges of "inciting hatred" in the kingdom.

The leftist opposition National Democratic Action Society, or Al-Waad, was banned the following year over allegations of links to terrorists.

Both opposition groups are denied representation in parliament. 

Human rights groups have frequently said cases against activists in Bahrain - men and women, religious and secular - fail to meet the basic standards of fair trials.

Amnesty and Human Rights Watch have categorised Salman and other jailed opposition leaders as prisoners of conscience, slamming the initial sentencing of the sheikh and his aides as political reprisal. 

Amnesty has called the verdict against Salman "a travesty of justice." 

In June, Bahrain amended its law on political rights, prohibiting leaders and members of dissolved political associations from running in legislative elections.

The king last year signed off on a decree granting military courts the right to try civilians accused of "terrorism", a vague legal term. 

Bahrain, a vital link for Western militaries, is home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet as well as a permanent British base.

US President Donald Trump has eased restrictions on arms sales to Bahrain since taking office.

Washington had urged Bahraini authorities not to overturn Salman's acquittal by a high criminal court in June of spying for Qatar, a verdict the public prosecution appealed.


50
50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail