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Bahrain sentences four to death after anti-government demos

Four demonstrators are sentenced to death, and another three given life in prison, for killing police officers last month.

Anti-government protesters gesture towards riot police in Bahrain last month.
Anti-government protesters gesture towards riot police in Bahrain last month.
Image: Hasan Jamali/AP

A MILITARY COURT in Bahrain has convicted four Shiite protesters, and sentenced them to death for the killing of two policemen during anti-government demonstrations last month, according to state media.

Three other Shiite activists, who were also on trial, were sentenced to life in prison for their role in the deaths of the policemen.

The verdicts — which can be appealed — were the first related to Bahrain’s uprising, which was inspired by revolts in the Arab world. The seven opposition supporters were tried behind closed doors on charges of premeditated murder of government employees.

In an earlier hearing this week, Bahrain state media said the military prosecutor presented evidence that showed the defendants killed the policemen “on purpose” by running them over with a car. Their lawyers denied the charges.

Foreign media was barred from the courtroom, but selected representatives from state-aligned media were allowed. Family members of the defendants also attended the trial.

Hundreds of protesters, opposition leaders and human rights activists have been detained since emergency rule was declared on March 15. Earlier this month, the authorities banned media from covering legal proceedings in the country’s military courts.

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The kingdom’s Shiite majority has long complained of discrimination and is campaigning for greater freedoms and equal rights in the tiny Sunni-ruled island nation.

Faced with an unprecedented political unrest, Bahrain’s king declared martial law and invited troops from Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-ruled Gulf countries to help quell Shiite dissent after weeks of street marches and bloody clashes in the kingdom’s capital, Manama.

AP

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