Bahrain court overturns 9-year jail term against Sheikh Ali Salman, orders retrial

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SHAFAQNA – A top court in Bahrain on Monday overturned a nine-year jail term against prominent opposition group chief, Sheikh Ali Salman.

The court of the cassation ordered a retrial of the head of the Al-Wefaq political formation before the appeals court, said a judicial source in the Gulf kingdom.

Sheikh Salman had been sentenced in July 2015 to four years in jail after being convicted of “inciting hatred” in Bahrain.

But the appeals court in May more than doubled his jail term to nine years after reversing an earlier acquittal on charges of calling for regime change by force.

Salman’s arrest in December 2014 sparked protests in Shiite-majority Bahrain.

The cassation court had rejected a request to release the cleric earlier this month.

His jail sentence is part of a crackdown on the Gulf nation’s largest opposition group, which has been dissolved by a court order over accusations of “harboring terrorism”.

Hundreds of pro-democracy protesters have been arrested and put on trial since security forces backed by Saudi-led troops crushed in March 2011 month-long demonstrations that demanded democratic reforms.

Authorities have also stripped at least 261 people of their citizenship since 2012, according to the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, including the country’s Shiite spiritual leader Sheikh Issa Qassim.

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