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Tuesday, October 4, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Shi'ite protest leaders sentenced to life in Bahrain

ABU DHABI — Bahrain has sentenced to prison alleged leaders of the Shi'ite uprising in 2011.


The Gulf Cooperation Council kingdom has affirmed life sentences against seven leaders of the Shi'ite opposition. The seven were convicted of plotting to overthrow the Sunni regime, which hosts the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, in the spring of 2011.

Prosecutors said many of the defendants were charged with trying to kill Bahraini soldiers and police during the Shi'ite revolt. Prosecutor Yusef Fleifel said 15 people were sentenced to 15 years each for attempted murder as well as torching Bahrain University in Manama, Middle East Newsline reported.

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Shi'ite opposition leaders said the prosecution based its case on confessions taken from suspects under torture. They said authorities rejected a request for the defendants to be examined for marks of abuse by interrogators.

Fleifel said the defendants would be allowed to appeal their sentences in front of a civilian court. The National Safety Court was established to handle the hundreds of people charged with participating in the Shi'ite revolt, in which up to 30 people were killed.

On Oct. 3, a special security court ordered 36 Shi'ites to serve terms of up to 25 years each. Of the defendants, 14 were sentenced by the so-called National Safety Court to life on conviction of killing a Pakistani national. Pakistanis comprise a major portion of Bahrain's military and security forces.

"They held people hostage in building S20 and set it on fire with the aim of killing those on the upper floor," the official Bahrain News Agency said.

Earlier, the security court sentenced much of the Shi'ite opposition leadership in connection with the unrest in March and April. Those sentenced included Hassan Mashaima, head of the Shi'ite opposition Haq movement, and Abdul Wahab Hussein, chairman of the Shi'ite movement Wafa. Some of the Shi'ites have launched a hunger strike to protest their sentences.

Almost all of the defendants were identified as Shi'ites, who comprise the majority in Bahrain. The exception was the Sunni leader of the Waed movement, which helped organize pro-democracy demonstrations.

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