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Bahrain commutes death terms of police assailants

Two Shiites convicted of killing two policemen had their sentences reduced to life imprisonment instead of death, while four others held for the same case will now be jailed for 15 years, instead of life imprisonment

AFP , Wednesday 26 Dec 2012
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A Bahraini appeals court on Wednesday commuted to life imprisonment the death sentences of two Shiites convicted of killing two policemen during last year's unrest, lawyers said.

Ali Abdullah Hasan al-Singace and Abdul Aziz Hussein, who were sentenced by a special Bahraini court in May last year, will now be jailed for life.

The court reduced the terms of four others held over the same case from life imprisonment to 15 years in jail, the lawyers said. A seventh defendant, whose sentence was also commuted to 15 years behind bars, remains at large.

The group, all Shiites, were accused of running over two policemen, Kashif Ahmed Manzur and Mohammed Farouk Abdulsamad, during the uprising in the Sunni-ruled kingdom.

Their trial began on April 17 last year, with state media reporting at the time that the defendants were accused of committing voluntary homicide of public officials with "terrorist" intentions.

The national safety court's verdict the next month drew international condemnation, with Amnesty International urging Bahrain to scrap the executions.

The court was set up under a state of national safety, a lower level of emergency law declared by King Hamad in mid-March 2011. In June the same year, the king lifted the measure.

Since February last year, Bahrain has been shaken by Shiite-led opposition protests that the authorities accuse of being exploited by Shiite Iran across the Gulf.

At least 80 people have died since the start of the unrest in February 2011, according to the International Federation of Human Rights.

The opposition in Shiite-majority Bahrain insists the premier stand down and that the government be headed by the leader of the elected majority in parliament.

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