TEHRAN (Press Shia) – Bahrain’s main Shiite opposition group, the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, condemned a recent verdict by an appellate court in the Persian Gulf Arab state against prominent opposition leader, Sheikh Ali Salman.

Bahrain's judiciary is a tool in the hands of the ruling Manama regime, and the recent life terms handed down to Sheikh Salman and his two colleagues reflect the magnitude of turmoil in the kingdom, al-Wefaq said in a statement on Sunday, Bahraini media reported.

The court, earlier on Sunday, ordered life sentences for Sheikh Salman and two more senior opposition members, overturning a previous acquittal on alleged charges of spying for Qatar.

The opposition movement stressed that the verdict against Sheikh Salman will only build up public strength, patience, pride and perseverance, and will validate their belief that Bahrain will be a better place without dictatorship, tyranny, injustice and plunder.

“The Bahraini regime is experiencing a real crisis with its people, and the deepening crisis has forced the regime to resort to reckless and insane measures in a bid to get out of its isolation. That is why it is taking political prisoners as hostages. Today, Bahrain ranks first in the Middle East as regards the number of political prisoners,” Wefaq pointed out in the statement.

The statement concluded that the Bahraini people are now more aware of the need for change, and that the regime’s policy of deception is no more effective.

The senior Bahraini cleric has been in jail on a nine-year prison sentence since late 2014 for what the Manama regime has called “insulting” government officials, “inciting” unrest through his speeches targeting the authorities during the 2011 uprising, attempting to overthrow the regime and collaborating with foreign powers.

Sheikh Salman denies all the charges, saying he has merely been seeking reforms in the country through peaceful means.

Amnesty International and other human rights groups have already censured his arrest and called for his release.