SHAFAQNA – A Bahraini court has handed down jail terms to scores of people over their involvement in anti-government protests, as the Manama regime steps up crackdown on dissent.
Bahrain’s al-Wassat newspaper reported on Thursday that 14 people were slapped with jails terms ranging from 3 to 15 years.
Ahmad al-Hammadi, a senior prosecutor in Bahrain’s criminal court, said the defendants were found guilty of sabotage over their role in anti-regime protests in Sitra island south of the capital.
Separately, a judicial source said that in another trial five men were convicted of having committed an alleged bomb attack in a village east of Manama in August last year.
The new verdicts come despite growing international concerns about stifling of dissent in Bahrain, a tiny Persian Gulf kingdom which has been grappling with popular protests over the past five years.
Rights campaigners have slammed the increasing number of jail sentences and court rulings that strips Bahraini activists of their nationality, saying the trend shows Manama’s lack of tolerance for dissent.
More than a hundred have been killed and hundreds more, including notable opposition leaders, have been thrown behind bars in Bahrain since the uprising began there in March 2011. Demonstrations have intensified in recent months with people demanding the release of prisoners.
The Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, the main opposition group Bahrain, said Thursday that courts issued a one-year jail sentence for one of its leaders identified as Sheikh Mohammed Almansi.
It said regime forces had arrested Almansi over a speech he delivered at a mosque, adding that he was accused of incitement by insulting the ruling Al Khalifah family. Almansi’s jail sentence was definite and went into effect on Thursday.
Wafaq’s top figure Sheikh Ali Salman has also been behind bars for more than a year now with the government ignoring repeated calls for the release of the respect cleric.