DUBAI (Reuters) - A Bahraini court sentenced three Shi‘ite Muslim men to death on Thursday after they were convicted on charges of terrorism and involvement in 2014 bomb attacks that injured a number of police officers.
The High Criminal Court also sentenced 14 other people linked to the same case to prison terms ranging from 10 years to life in jail, state news agency BNA reported, quoting a state prosecution statement. At least were sentenced in absentia, the statement said.
The rulings come amid increased tensions in the Western-allied kingdom. Authorities have stepped up a crackdown on dissent by arresting activists, banning the main Shi‘ite opposition al-Wefaq group and taking steps to dissolve a secular association earlier this month.
The statement said the suspects were accused of forming a “dangerous terrorist cell that carried out the manufacture of explosives and local weapons which they used against security forces in the northern province”.
The rulings are subject to appeal, a Bahraini lawyer with knowledge of the case told Reuters.
Bahrain in January executed three Shi‘ite men convicted of killing three policemen, including an officer from the United Arab Emirates, in a 2014 bomb attack. They were the first such executions in over two decades and sparked protests in the Sunni-ruled kingdom.
Bahrain had been convulsed by occasional unrest since authorities crushed 2011 protests, mainly by the Shi‘ite majority demanding a bigger share in running the country.
Last week, a court delayed a ruling in the trial of the spiritual leader of the Shi‘ites on charges of collecting funds illegally and money laundering.
Reporting By Aziz El Yaakoubi; editing by Sami Aboudi, Larry King