Bahrain sentences 12 to life in jail for spying, receiving Iran military training

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 April, 2014, 9:21pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 April, 2014, 12:10am

A Bahraini court has sentenced 12 men to life in prison for spying, receiving training from Iran's Revolutionary Guard and processing weapons and explosives, a defence lawyer and rights activist said.

Bahrain accuses Shiite power Iran of fuelling unrest in the country. In 2011, an uprising led by the Shiite Muslim community demanded reforms and greater power over the kingdom, ruled by the Sunni Muslim al-Khalifa dynasty.

Tehran denies the accusation but defends the cause of Bahrain's Shiite opposition.

Attorney Fatima al-Adraj said on Tuesday that the court convicted the men on Sunday, and sentenced two others to 15 years.

Some of the men were tried in absentia, said activist Mohammed al-Maskati.

Last year, Bahrain, which hosts the US Fifth Fleet, accused Iran's Revolutionary Guard of setting up a "terrorist" cell that planned to attack its airport and government buildings.

Separately, the public prosecution charged eight men with being part of a terrorist group, state news agency BNA reported. The charges follow the killing of three policemen by a bomb on March 3 during a protest in a Shiite village.

The charges include setting up a group that makes and uses explosives "targeting police members with the intention of killing them for the purpose of sowing chaos and sedition, and weakening state institutions to make them fail", public prosecutor Hussein Albouali was quoted as saying.

Although the government quelled the 2011 revolt, unrest persists. On Tuesday, hundreds of Bahrainis clashed with police after the funeral of two men who were killed in a car explosion over the weekend, a witness said.

As the funeral ended in al-Maqsha village, some youths threw stones and petrol bombs at the police, who fired tear gas. No one was hurt and the gathering dispersed shortly after that.