DUBAI: A Bahrain court sentenced 24 Shiite citizens to prison and stripped them of their nationality after finding them guilty of forming a “terrorist group”, a Bahraini judicial source said yesterday. Other charges included travelling to Iraq and Iran for “weapons and explosives training” and attempted murder of police officers. The High Criminal Court on Wednesday sentenced 10 of the defendants to life in prison, 10 to a decade behind bars and the other four to jail terms ranging from three to five years.
The Sunni-ruled, Shiite-majority kingdom has stripped hundreds of its citizens of their nationality and jailed dozens of high-profile activists and religious clerics since protests demanding an elected government erupted in early 2011. The Bahraini government has accused Shiite Iran of backing the protests and attempting to overthrow the government. Tehran denies involvement. Authorities on Wednesday also referred to trial seven Bahrainis accused of attacking an oil pipeline to Saudi Arabia in November.
That trial is set for May 10. The blast cut off the pipeline linking Bahrain’s Bapco refinery with oil giant Aramco’s main pumping station in neighboring Saudi Arabia’s Dhahran province. Manama in February said it had arrested four men suspected of attacking the pipeline, accusing Saudi Arabia’s arch-rival Iran of training and arming two of them, which Tehran denied. Under Bahrain’s citizenship law, amended after political protests broke out in 2011, the authorities can revoke the nationality of individuals who engage in acts deemed “disloyal” to the state.
Human Rights Watch in February accused the kingdom of “stripping away the citizenships of people whom they find undesirable”. Bahrain earlier this year deported eight people to war-torn Iraq after revoking their citizenship and making them stateless.–AFP