Amnesty: Conviction Issued Against Al-Wefaq S-G Politically Motivated
2016-05-31 - 8:00 p
Bahrain Mirror: Amnesty International said in a statement published on its website that "the conviction of opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman and increase of his prison sentence from four to nine years for giving speeches in which he criticized the government is a shocking attack on the right to freedom of expression."
"Sheikh Ali Salman's conviction is clearly politically motivated and is designed to send a message to others that even legitimate and peaceful demands for reform will not go unpunished," said James Lynch, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International. "He is a prisoner of conscience and should never have been put on trial in the first place. He must be immediately and unconditionally released."
The rights group further highlighted that Ebrahim Sharif, former Secretary General of the National Democratic Action Society (Wa'ad) and Fadhel Abbas Mahdi Mohamed, former Secretary General of the Unitary National Democratic Assemblage (al-Wahdawi party) are still behind bars, stressing that they are prisoners of conscience.
"With three prominent opposition politicians behind bars, the authorities have made clear that criticism will not be tolerated in Bahrain today and anyone who dares to challenge them is at risk," added Lynch.
Bahrain's High Appeals Court, presided over by judge Mohammad bin Ali Al Khalifa, toughened the prison sentence issued against the head of the Bahraini opposition and Secretary-General of Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, Sheikh Ali Salman, from 4 to 9 years in prison on Monday (May 30, 2016).
The court sentenced him to 7 years over the first three charges and upheld a two-year jail term over the fourth charge.
The High Criminal Court (first instance) had acquitted Sheikh Salman in June 2015 of charges of attempting to overthrow the regime in Manama by force, while convicting and sentencing him to two years in prison over charges of inciting hatred against a particular sect and insulting the Interior Ministry. Sheikh Salman was also handed down a two-year jail term over disobedience of the law.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention called on the Bahraini authorities to release Sheikh Salman immediately and grant him adequate compensation.
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