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Bahrain court upholds life sentences on opposition

January 07, 2013

Security personnel stang guard outside the court where trial of 20 uprising leaders took place last year. — File Photo by Reuters

MANAMA: A defense attorney says Bahrain's highest court has upheld jail sentences against 20 opposition figures convicted of plotting to overthrow the Western-allied government, including eight prominent activists facing life in prison.    

Monday's decision is almost certain to bring strong criticism from rights groups and touch off more street protests in the violence-wracked Gulf kingdom. Bahrain's majority Shias are pressing for a greater political voice in the Sunni-ruled nation, which is home to the US Navy's 5th Fleet.

The lawyer, Jalil al-Aradi, says the court ruling likely closes all appeal options.

Among the eight sentenced to life is rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who staged a 110-day hunger strike last year in protest. The other 12 have sentences ranging from five to 15 years, with seven convicted in absentia.