Bahrain’s supreme court of appeals has upheld prison sentences against 10 Shia anti-regime activists as the ruling Al Khalifah regime presses ahead with its heavy clampdown on political dissidents and pro-democracy activists in the kingdom.
On Wednesday, the Court of Cassation found the defendants guilty of forming an espionage cell and affiliation to Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC). Iran denies supporting any bid to overthrow the Bahraini government.
The court condemned four of the convicts to life imprisonment and handed down 15-year jail terms to five others, and sentenced another defendant to 10 years in prison.
The top court also revoked the Bahraini citizenship of nine of the convicts, and ordered all to pay a total fine of 10,000 dinars ($26,522).
Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February 2011.
They are demanding that the Al Khalifah regime relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.
Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.
Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown.
On March 5, 2017, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide.
Bahraini monarch King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah ratified the constitutional amendment on April 3 last year.