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Three anti-regime protesters get life term in Bahrain

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This August 28, 2015 photo shows a Bahraini protester covering his face from tear gas fired by riot police during clashes following a demonstration against the government in the village of Sitra, south of the capital Manama. (AFP photo)

A court in Bahrain has sentenced three people to life imprisonment for participation in anti-regime protests during which a police officer was injured, the public prosecutor's office says.

A senior Bahraini prosecutor said on Thursday that the trio was convicted and sentenced by Bahrain’s top criminal court on charges of injuring a policeman during protests in the capital Manama in March 2014.

Ahmad al-Hammadi told the official BNA agency that six other convicts were also handed 15-year prison sentence each.

He said all nine defendants had been charged with involvement in terrorism activities, including attempted murder of police officers, possession of explosives and participation in what he called gatherings that triggered disorder in Bahrain.

The verdicts are the latest in a seemingly increasing wave of judicial crackdown on political dissent in Bahrain. Hundreds, including notable opposition leaders, are behind bars for their involvement in popular protests against the ruling al-Khalifah regime.

Rights campaigners have bashed Manama for its way of dealing with dissent, saying lengthy jail terms and verdicts stripping residents of their citizenship show the regime’s lack of tolerance for political activism.

Bahrain’s high criminal court ruled on Wednesday that Ebrahim Karimi, a campaigner on social media who wrote critical articles against Saudi Arabia, must be stripped of his citizenship.

Amnesty International, a rights group based in London, recently slammed Washington’s silence on the trial of activists in Bahrain, urging the US Embassy in Manama to send observers to court hearings. The US runs its fifth navy fleet on the Persian Gulf tiny island.

Close to a hundred have also been killed since an uprising began in Bahrain over five years ago, with people from the country’s majority Shia population demanding more of a say in the country’s political system.

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