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Bahraini courts sentence 18 citizens to years in prison



A prison van leaves the Public Prosecution offices in Manama, Bahrain, February 16, 2016. ©AP

Bahraini courts have handed down jail terms to 18 people over a range of allegations, among them attacks against police, as the Al Khalifah regime presses ahead with its crackdown on critics.

An appeals court upheld a five-year imprisonment verdict against a Bahraini national on charges of causing an accident with a police vehicle.The court also ordered the defendant to pay 250 Bahraini dinars (some 665 dollars) in fines, the Arabic-language Bahrain Mirror website reported.

In another case, the appeals court sentenced nine people each to five years imprisonment over allegations of beating a policeman, injuring an Asian national and taking part in a gathering of more than five people.

Bahrain’s Supreme Criminal Court also convicted six other citizens of participating in a gathering of more than five people and inciting violence, sentencing him to seven years in prison.

Another Bahraini got a 3-year jail term at the same court and was fined 300 Bahraini dinars (about 797 dollars).

In a separate case, a court increased the jail term handed down to a person from seven to nine years.

Setting fire to tires during ant-regime gatherings and spreading terror among people were among the other charges brought against the defendants.

Bahraini police fire tear gas at anti-regime protesters in the village of Shahrakan, Bahrain, April 5, 2016. ©AP

The developments come as human rights organizations have cast doubt on the independence of the Bahraini judiciary while all the defendants’ confessions seem to have been obtained under torture.

Bahrain, a close ally of the US in the Persian Gulf region, has seen a wave of anti-regime protests since mid-February 2011.

Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others wounded or detained amid Manama’s ongoing crackdown on dissent and widespread discrimination against the Shia majority.

Several rights groups have frequently censured Bahrain for rampant human rights abuses against opposition activists and anti-regime demonstrators.

Earlier this week, Amnesty International called on the kingdom to suspend its repression of peaceful critics and opposition figures.

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