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Bahrain activist's family members lose appeal against jail terms

Dubai, United Arab Emirates – Bahrain upheld Monday, February 25, prison sentences against a prominent activist's relatives convicted of planting a fake bomb, a rights group said, in a case slammed as political reprisal by the United Nations (UN). 

The mother-in-law, brother-in-law, and cousin of activist Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, head of advocacy for the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, were arrested and sentenced in 2017 for planting a fake device. Rights groups and the UN have said the case was based on trumped-up charges. 

On Monday the Supreme Court upheld 3-year sentences against the 3, the London-based rights group said, in what is a final verdict that cannot be appealed.

On Twitter, Alwadaei said of the High Court's ruling: "This is what you expect from a corrupt injustice system. I will not rest until my family is free."

Bahrain’s corrupt judiciary upheld the 3 years prison sentence against my family members. This is what you expect from a corrupt injustice system. I will not rest until my family is free. pic.twitter.com/hi57iSluJu — Sayed Ahmed AlWadaei (@SAlwadaei) February 25, 2019

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention last month said the defendants were "deprived of their liberty... and prosecuted for their family ties with Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei" in "acts of reprisals."

It also called for the immediate release of Alwadaei's mother-in-law Hajer Mansoor Hassan, his brother-in-law Sayed Nizar Alwadaei, and cousin Mahmood Marzooq Mansoor.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have also denounced the case and said the 3 were tortured and forced to make confessions.

Amnesty said it had evidence Mansoor, who has gone on multiple rounds of hunger strike, was a "prisoner of conscience" who was denied medical access. 

A joint statement signed by Amnesty, HRW and 9 other rights groups Sunday, February 24, urged the Bahraini government to release Alwadaei's relatives and "ensure their convictions and sentences are quashed."

"The prosecution of his relatives is the latest attempt to intimidate (Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei) and silence his advocacy efforts," the statement said.

Bahrain, a key US ally located between rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran, has been gripped by bouts of unrest since 2011, when authorities cracked down on Shiite-led protests demanding political reform.

Since then, hundreds of protesters have been jailed or stripped of their nationality, with Bahrain claiming Iran trained and backed demonstrators in order to topple the Manama government. Iran denies the accusation. 

 

The High Court on Monday also upheld the death penalty for two Shiites convicted of a 2015 roadside bombing that killed two policemen in the eastern village of Sitra, a judicial source said. 

The two were sentenced for the "terrorist act" under the "instruction of Iran," the source said, requesting anonymity as he was not authorized to brief the press. 

In December 2018,  prominent Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab lost his final appeal against a 5-year jail term for writing tweets deemed offensive to the state.

Ruled for more than two centuries by the Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty, Bahrain has a majority Shiite Muslim population, according to unofficial estimates contested by the government.

All opposition groups have been banned and disbanded. – Rappler.com