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Bahrain court jails nine Shiites over 'terrorist' cell

Scores of Shiites have faced jail terms over accusations of involvement in violence since protests against the regime in February 2011

AFP , Monday 20 May 2013
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A Bahraini court sentenced nine Shiites to jail terms ranging between 10 and 15 years on Monday after convicting them of forming a "terrorist" group, a judicial source said.

Cleric Ahmed al-Majed and a second defendant were jailed for 15 years, while a third defendant was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The three were the only defendants to appear in court, as the other six remain at large and were sentenced in absentia to 10 years, the source said.

The first two were convicted of "forming an illegal group that aimed to jeopardise the rule of law and obstruct state institutions from performing their duties... through using terrorism," the source said, quoting the list of charges.

The other seven defendants were accused of joining the group despite knowing of its "terrorist objectives."

All defendants were convicted for "possessing explosives," the source added.

Scores of Shiites have faced jail terms over accusations of involvement in violence since protests against the regime of the ruling Al-Khalifa Sunni dynasty erupted in February 2011.

Despite a heavy-handed crackdown by security forces in mid-March 2011, supported by Saudi-led Gulf troops, protesters were shortly back in the streets, mainly in Shiite villages, where they frequently clash with police.

At least 80 people have been killed in Bahrain since February 2011, according to the International Federation for Human Rights.

Strategically located just across the Gulf from Iran, Bahrain is home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet and is also a major offshore financial and services centre for its Arab neighbours in the oil-rich Gulf.

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