Bahrain upholds life sentences for protest leaders

September 28, 2011 21:09

MANAMA - A Bahrain military court upheld life sentences on Wednesday against Shi'ite opposition leaders for organizing protests earlier this year that threatened the Sunni monarchy's grip on power, but Amnesty International called the trial a "sham".

The state news agency BNA said the eight men could still appeal the verdicts in the civilian Court of Cassation. They could be released via an amnesty from King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa.

The national security appeals court, set up during a period of martial law that ended on May 31, sentenced eight of 21 men on trial to life in prison in June. One of those sentenced to life was tried in absentia because he lives abroad.

The 21 include the leader of the secular Waad party, Ibrahim Sharif, a Sunni Muslim whose five-year sentence also was upheld, and blogger Ali Abdulemam, sentenced to 15 years and thought to be in hiding inside Bahrain.

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