DUBAI, Jan 1, (Agencies): A Bahraini court sentenced a Shiite citizen to death and jailed 22 others for life Thursday for forming a “terrorist group” that killed two people, including a policeman. This is the second such ruling this week in the tiny Sunni-ruled Gulf kingdom, where members of the Shiite majority population have led an uprising. The court also revoked the citizenships of the 23 convicts and fined two of them 200,000 dinars ($530,000/480,000 euros), terror crime prosecution chief Ahmed Al-Hammadi said in a statement. Judicial sources said that all the defendants were Shiite and that 16 were tried in absentia, without giving further details.
Hammadi said members of the group were convicted of carrying out bombings in two Shiite villages last December.
One of the bombings, in Damistan village, killed a Jordanian policeman working in Bahrain under a security and training exchange agreement. The other one in the nearby village of Karzakan, killing an elderly Bahraini man. Both bombings were carried out by the same “terrorist group” formed by the defendants and “specialised in making explosives to target policemen,” Hammadi said.
Meanwhile, an appeals court upheld the death sentence Thursday against a Shiite convicted of forming and leading a similar “terrorist group” that killed a policeman in a bombing in the Shiite village of Aker last year, Hammadi said. The court also confirmed stiff jail sentences handed down in April to 11 other members of the group.
Seven of them have been sentenced to life, and four others to 10 years, said Hammadi in a statement. The appeals court also approved revoking the citizenship of all the defendants convicted of attempting to kill three other policemen.
On Tuesday, Bahrain handed down sentences ranging from five years to life in prison to 29 people for the attempted murder of a policemen in a bombing later in December 2014. Attacks against police are common in Bahrain, a Western ally and home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, across the Gulf from Iran.
The kingdom has been rocked by the Shiite-led uprising since February 2011, with demands ranging from a constitutional monarchy to overthrowing the ruling Sunni dynasty altogether. Scores of opponents have been detained, with many facing trial, while others convicted of involvement in violence have been handed heavy sentences, including loss of citizenship and life in prison.
The prosecutor’s office said the High Criminal Court jailed 22 other suspects in the same case for life, according to a statement posted on BNA. None of those sentenced were named. Bahrain has been caught up in a regional tussle for influence between Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran, with authorities here blaming Shi’ite groups for attacks and accusing them of having links to Iran.
Tehran denies this. Discontent remains high almost five years after mass protests by the majority Shi’ite Muslims demanding reforms from the Sunni monarchy. Several policemen have been killed in a series of violent incidents in the strategic Gulf Arab nation which hosts the US Fifth Fleet.