A court in Bahrain has handed down a death sentence to one activist and life imprisonments to 22 others in the latest instance of the regime’s intensifying crackdown on dissent and members of civil society.
Bahrain’s Higher Criminal Court convicted the 23 Shias on Thursday in connection with the death of a policeman last year.
The 23 people were found guilty of terrorism-related charges, including setting off the explosives that killed the policeman.
A lawyer for the convicts said seven of those people are in custody while the rest were tried in absentia, including the death-row convict.
Jassim Sarhan said the court also revoked the citizenship of the defendants, who are entitled the right to appeal.
The harsh verdicts are the latest in a string of court rulings in Bahrain involving people who have played a role in four years of popular protests and demonstrations in the kingdom.
Since March 2011 and concurrent with uprisings in other Arab countries, Bahrainis began to take to the streets to demand a change in the political system. The regime in Manama responded with a massive crackdown by killing dozens and arresting hundreds of the people, including notable opposition leaders. The demonstrations have gradually turned into platforms for outright calls for the ouster of the Al Khalifa regime.
Earlier this month, the same court sentenced five people to life imprisonment over their alleged involvement in a bombing against regime forces on al-Janabiya Highway in the coastal town of al-Budaiya, located just 10 kilometers (six miles) southwest of the capital, Manama, on June 4 last year.
Moreover, it sentenced 29 people to jail terms ranging from five years to life imprisonment over their alleged involvement in a bomb attack last year. Another man was also sentenced to life in prison over attempting to kill a police officer.
The Bahraini judiciary has also come under fire by many human rights groups for handing down long-term sentences to anti-regime protesters and activists in the country. Amnesty International and other rights groups have repeatedly censured the Bahraini regime over the “rampant” human rights abuses against protesters.