Bahrain's main opposition group, the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, has strongly condemned the life sentence handed down to prominent Bahraini Shia cleric and opposition leader, Sheikh Ali Salman, stating that the ruling clearly shows that the kingdom’s judiciary is corrupt, politicized and excessively dependent.
Al-Wefaq said in a statement released on Tuesday that last year’s verdicts against the 54-year-old secretary general of the dissolved movement and two of his colleagues, Hassan Sultan and Ali al-Aswad, pointed to the collapse of the justice system in Bahrain, the absence of the most basic elements of a fair trial and the complete dependence of the judiciary on political decisions taken by the ruling Manama regime.
The statement added the ruling against the distinguished opposition leader is related to “the conflict between Qatar and Bahrain.”
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5, 2017, after officially accusing it of “sponsoring terrorism.”
Qatar strongly dismissed allegations of supporting terrorism after the Saudi regime and its allies blacklisted dozens of individuals and entities purportedly associated with Doha.
On Nov 4, 2018, an appellate court in Bahrain overturned the acquittal of Sheikh Salman and two of his colleagues, Hassan Sultan and Ali al-Aswad, and levied charges of collaborating with Qatar “with the purpose of overthrowing the regime” against them.
The court went on to say that the trio had transferred confidential information to Qatar and received financial support in return. Sultan and Aswad were tried in absentia.
The high criminal court in Bahrain had acquitted Sheikh Salman and his two aides of the spying charges on June 21 last year.
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, 2017.