Bahrain sentences opposition leader to 4 years in jail

2015-06-17 11:49
Bahraini protesters hold a placard portraying Sheikh Ali Salman, head of the Shi'ite opposition movement Al-Wefaq, during a demonstration against his arrest. (Mohammed al-Shaikh, AFP)

Bahraini protesters hold a placard portraying Sheikh Ali Salman, head of the Shi'ite opposition movement Al-Wefaq, during a demonstration against his arrest. (Mohammed al-Shaikh, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Dubai - Bahrain sentenced opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman to four years in jail on Tuesday on charges of inciting unrest, a decision that an opposition group said could stoke more protests in the Sunni Muslim-ruled kingdom.

Salman, 49, is the most senior figure in Shi'ite opposition to be jailed since anti-government protests erupted in 2011, at the height of the region's "Arab Spring" uprisings.

"The Higher Criminal Court sentenced the secretary general of one of Bahrain's political societies to four years imprisonment," advocate general Haroon al-Zayani was quoted as telling state news agency BNA.

Salman, who was not named in the statement, was convicted on charges of "publicly inciting hatred, an act which disturbed public peace, inciting non-compliance with the law and insulting public institutions."

Bahrain, which hosts the US Fifth Fleet, has experienced sporadic turmoil since mass protests in 2011 led by majority Shi'ites demanding reforms and a bigger role in government. That uprising was put down with military help from Saudi Arabia.

The al Wefaq Islamic Society headed by Salman, a Shi'ite cleric, confirmed he had been sentenced.

Inflame tensions

"The sentence gives a new lease on life to the crisis and gives greater legitimacy to mobilise. The people have no choice but to continue in their peaceful popular movement," it said in a statement on its official website. "People will not return to their homes and will not relent in their demands."

Salman was acquitted of the most serious charge, promoting the overthrow of the political system by force, the advocate general said. Salman has denied the charges and has dismissed the trial as a bid to muzzle dissent.

In Washington, State Department spokesperson John Kirby said the United States was deeply concerned that Tuesday's ruling "has the potential to inflame tensions" and that any charges against Salman for engaging in peaceful expression or assembly should be dropped.

Amnesty International called on Bahrain on Monday to free Salman, calling him a "prisoner of conscience" and saying his trial was unfair.

The island kingdom says it has made significant political reforms and increased oversight of security forces. Opponents say abuses continue.

With a political accord between the government and opposition remaining elusive, deadly bomb attacks on Bahraini security forces have increased.

In a statement on Monday, the government said: "Ali Salman's case relates to criminal charges, specifically incitement of hatred, as well as inciting violence. The charges and subsequent trial are wholly unrelated to any political views he may hold."

Read more on:    bahrain  |  security

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.