Bahrain Moved Ahead in Opposition Leader Trial despite what was Caused by Khashoggi Killing: FT
2018-11-07 - 1:50 am
Bahrain Mirror: The British "Financial Times" newspaper said that the life term ruling by the Supreme Court of Appeal against Sheikh Ali Salman, head of the Al-Wefaq, and two other members of the movement, risks heightening tensions ahead of the November 24 polls.
Activists said that the ruling is part of an extended government crackdown on the Shia majority.
Sayed Ahmed Al-Wadaei, director of advocacy at the London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, said the life sentence was "political persecution".
"It can't happen without authorization by the highest authority in the [ruling] Al-Khalifa family," he said.
In its report, the newspaper tackled 2011 uprising that came within a wave of protests swept across the Middle East. It also noted that the authorities brutally put down the uprising, arresting thousands, while hundreds of Shia have since fled into exile or had their nationality revoked.
Salman has been in prison since 2015 and is serving a four-year sentence on separate charges of inciting violence and insulting the interior ministry.
Al-Wefaq, which won 18 of 40 parliamentary seats in 2010 elections, is the main Shia political movement. But the authorities have dissolved the group last year. Al-Wefaq called on Bahrainis last month to boycott the polls, describing the political system as "unreformed" and "totalitarian".
Bahrainis say that the government has encouraged individuals not associated with the main movements to stand in the elections. Critics say the parliament is toothless, with power rooted firmly in the hands of the ruling family.
Mr. Salman and his co-defendants were charged with transferring confidential information to Qatar and receiving financial support from the neighboring Gulf state around the time of the 2011 uprising.
After Mr. Salman was acquitted of the spying charges in June, the US State Department said the verdict had removed a "potential barrier to political reconciliation in Bahrain". It urged Bahraini prosecutors not to appeal the ruling.
But the authorities moved ahead, even as the Gulf's autocratic monarchies' harsh treatment of critics has come under increasing scrutiny in the wake of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul.