Monday, January 7, 2013
Bahrain court upholds life sentences on opposition
MANAMA, Bahrain — Bahrain’s highest court today upheld jail terms for 20 opposition figures — including eight sentenced to life — for alleged plots to “overthrow” the state in a decision likely to touch off more protests in the Gulf nation and bring renewed criticism from its Western allies.
The group includes a rights activist who staged a 110-day hunger strike last year to protest the verdicts, which critics have denounced as part of attempts to crush an Arab Spring-inspired uprising began nearly two years ago in the strategic island kingdom.
Authorities in Bahrain — which is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet — accuse Iran of encouraging the Shiite-led protests as a way to undermine Bahrain’s pro-Western leadership and gain a key foothold on the doorstep of rival Saudi Arabia. Tehran has sharply criticized Bahrain’s crackdowns, but denies it has any direct role with the opposition.