Bahrain Jails Three to 15 Years for Alleged Role in 2014 Car Bombing

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Bahraini court sentenced three defendants to 15 years each in prison after it convicted them of allegedly blowing up a car in the capital last year, official media said.

The unnamed defendants were convicted Tuesday of "placing a gas cylinder" inside a car in Manama in February to blow it up "in a bid to terrorize" the community, the state-run news agency BNA reported.

They were also convicted of "deliberately starting a fire to endanger the lives of people" and "possessing petrol bombs," it said, quoting a prosecution statement.

It did not say if the alleged attack had caused any casualties.

The news comes a day after prominent activist Nabeel Rajab was sentenced to six months in prison, after a Bahraini court found him guilty of insulting public institutions on his Twitter account.

Moreover, Bahraini prosecutors charged on Monday Sheikh Ali Salman, the head of al-Wefaq Bahrain’s main opposition group, with attempting to overthrow the regime and sent him to trial despite international calls for his release.

Salman will stand trial starting on January 28 on charges of "promoting the overthrow and change of the political regime by force," prosecutor Nayef Mahmoud said in a statement.

Salman has remained in custody since authorities arrested him on December 28 on charges including seeking regime change.

Rights watchdog Amnesty International has urged authorities in Bahrain to release the opposition chief whose detention sparked protests and widespread condemnation.

Western-allied Bahrain has been dogged by political tensions since security forces quelled pro-democracy protests in 2011.

Bahrain, a country ruled by the al-Khalifa family for over 200 years, crushed peaceful demonstrations that began on February 14, 2011.

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf neighbors sent troops into Bahrain in March 2011, reinforcing a crackdown that led to accusations of serious human rights violations.

At least 93 people are estimated to have been killed and hundreds have been arrested and tried since the uprising erupted.

Bahrain's majority have demanded reforms and a bigger share in government in the oil-rich kingdom, where the US Fifth Fleet is based.

Last year, King Hamad, a long-standing ally of Washington, approved a law imposing a jail sentence of up to seven years and a fine of up to 10,000 dinars ($26,500) for anyone who publicly insulted him.

Today, Bahrain has the distinction of being the country with the second highest prison population rate per 100,000 amongst Arab states in the West Asian and North African region.

Even though Bahrain violently quelled 2011 protests, it continues to witness sporadic protests which often spiral into clashes with police.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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