Bahrain activist sentenced to 16 months in jail

A court in Bahrain has sentenced prominent human rights activist, Zainab al-Khawaja, to 16 months in prison.

The activist was found guilty of insulting a government employee and damaging public property in 2012, Khawaja’s lawyer, Mohammed al-Wasati, said on Tuesday.

“(Zainab got) one year in jail for insulting a government employee and four months for two cases of damaging public property,” al-Wasati said, adding, “With the new verdict, Zainab can be taken to jail at any time.”

The Bahraini activist had been previously handed down a three-year prison term and had been fined USD 7,960 on charges of tearing Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa’s photograph.

She was temporarily released last month since she was eight months pregnant. Khawaja gave birth to a boy last week.

On December 4, Amnesty International called on the Bahraini government to drop all charges against Khawaja.

“Tearing up a photo of the head of state should not be a criminal offence. Amnesty International is calling for this and all of Zainab al-Khawaja’s other convictions to be quashed and all outstanding charges to be dropped,” Said Boumedouha, the deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International, said.

Zainab is the daughter of Abdel-Hadi al-Khawaja, a famous pro-democracy activist and lawyer who is currently serving a life sentence for what a court has called attempts to overthrow Bahrain’s monarchy.

Since mid-February 2011, thousands of pro-democracy protesters have held numerous rallies in the streets of Bahrain, calling for the Al Khalifa royal family to relinquish power.

Bahrain has been severely criticized by human rights groups for its harsh crackdown on anti-government protesters, which has claimed the lives of scores of people so far.


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