Bahrain jails 50 for up to 15 years


Dubai: A Bahraini court on Sunday sentenced 50 people to up to 15 years in jail, including a prominent Iraqi cleric, for forming a clandestine opposition group, a judicial source said.
Sixteen defendants were handed 15-year terms, while four others were jailed for 10 years and the other 30 sentenced to five years behind bars, the source said.
The defendants, including Iraqi cleric Hadi Al Mudaressi who was sentenced in absentia, were charged with forming the “February 14 Revolution Youth Coalition”, which Bahraini authorities accuse of terrorism.
The group has been the main driving force behind a Shiite-led uprising that began in 2011 to demand more rights.
Several defendants were sentenced in absentia, including Saeed Al Shahabi, a key London-based Bahraini opposition figure who faces an earlier life sentence for his role in the 2011 uprising.
The interior ministry in June named 11 suspects who were arrested in the case, in addition to 13 people who live abroad. Authorities said at the time that they were still hunting down others.
The defendants are accused of forming an illegal group opposing the political system and “training elements to commit violence and vandalism” in addition to “attacking security men,” according to the charge sheet.
“Terrorism was among the means used,” by the group which also had “contact with a foreign state,” it said, apparently referring to Iran.
Bahrain’s opposition, mainly in response to calls by the February 14 Coalition, continues to demonstrate in villages, frequently clashing with police.
At least 89 people have been killed since protests erupted In February 2011, according to the International Federation for Human Rights.