Press Shia Agency – Bahrain’s appeals court has ruled to uphold a nine-year jail sentence handed down to senior Shia opposition cleric, Sheikh Ali Salman, despite widespread criticism both at home and abroad against his imprisonment.
Press Shia Agency – A judicial source said the verdict was issued during a Monday trial session.
On the eve of the trial, hundreds of Bahrainis staged anti-regime protest rallies across the Persian Gulf kingdom to demand the immediate release of Sheikh Salman, the secretary general of the country’s dissolved al-Wefaq National Islamic Society.
The protesters poured out into the streets in the villages of Diraz, al-Markh and Saar as well as the town of Bilad al-Qadeem on Sunday evening.
On October 16, Bahrain’s Court of Cassation overturned the sentence and ordered a retrial of the senior Shia opposition figure, who had been sentenced to nine years in jail in previous trials.
Earlier this month, the tribunal adjourned the trial of Sheikh Salman to December 12.
He was arrested in December 2014 on charges of attempting to overthrow the Manama regime and collaborating with foreign powers. Sheikh Salman denies the charges, saying he has merely been seeking reforms in the country through peaceful means.
Amnesty International and other human rights groups have slammed his arrest and called for his release.
This photo shows Bahraini protesters during a demonstration calling for the release of distinguished Shia opposition cleric Sheikh Ali Salman in Bilad al-Qadeem town on December 11, 2016.
During the Sunday rallies, the demonstrators also expressed their solidarity with top Shia scholar Sheikh Isa Qassim, who was stripped of his citizenship on June 20 in yet another repressive measure by the regime against political dissent.
Besides al-Wefaq, the regime has also dissolved the opposition al-Risala Islamic Association and Islamic Enlightenment Institution, founded by Sheikh Qassim.
Bahrain has been witnessing almost daily protests against the ruling Al Khalifah dynasty since mid-February 2011.
Manama’s heavy-handed crackdown on demonstrations, aided by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, has left scores of people dead and hundreds more injured.