DUBAI: Bahrain has jailed nine Shiites, including a minor and a relative of a prominent London-based activist, on charges of throwing fuel bombs at police, a judicial source and activists said on Tuesday.
The kingdom’s Sunni rulers have cracked down heavily on all displays of dissent ever since they bloodily suppressed mass protests led by the Shiite majority in 2011 for a constitutional minority with an elected prime minister.
The court sentenced eight defendants to seven years in prison on Monday after convicting them of attacking a police patrol with Molotov cocktails in the southern village of Aley, the judicial source said. The ninth, a minor, was sentenced to three years.
The court transcript did not give the names of any of the defendants.
But the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy named one of them as Sayed Nizar Alwadaei, 19, a relative of its London-based head of advocacy, Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei.
Sayed Ahmed said lawyers had confirmed to him that his young relative, who is already serving a three-year jail sentence on the charge of planting a fake bomb, was among those convicted.
Sayed Nizar’s mother, Hajer Mansoor Hassan, was also jailed for three years in the fake bomb case, which has drawn heavy criticism from international human rights groups who have questioned whether it had any basis. Hassan ended her second hunger strike in prison this week.
Amnesty International has called the jail sentences “a reprisal” for the work of Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei.
Washington has criticised Bahrain’s crackdown and called for moves towards dialogue with the Shiite-led opposition.
But the tiny island kingdom just across the Gulf from Iran is a strategic ally and provides the home base of the US Fifth Fleet.
Bahrain says it is the victim of a campaign of violence orchestrated by Shiite Iran and aimed at overthrowing its constitutional government.