A Bahraini court on Monday jailed 37 activists for up to 15 years for carrying out “terrorist crimes” in the kingdom, home to a two-year-old uprising, a judicial source said.
The ruling comes one day after the court sentenced 50 other activist and protest leaders, most of whom gave confessions under torture according to a human rights group.
The criminal court in Manama, headed by a judge appointed by the Bahraini king, sentenced four of the defendants on Monday to 15 years in prison. It jailed six for 10 years and handed five-year jail terms to 27 others, the source said, adding that only two were acquitted.
Eighteen of the 37 defendants were tried in absentia, according to the same source.
The 37 were convicted of “carrying out terrorist crimes on April 24 as part of a group attempt to undermine public security and endanger lives of people and public property as well as attempting to kill policemen,” according to the charges.
Bahrain, suffering the throes of a two-and-half year long uprising against the western-backed Khalifa ruling family, has witnessed a spate of arrests of activists and dissidents unjustly accused of terrorism charges, local and international human rights groups have said.
At least 89 people have been killed since the protests erupted in February 2011, according to the International Federation for Human Rights.
Bahrain is home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet and is an offshore financial and services center for its oil and gas-rich Gulf Arab neighbors.