|Date: Apr 17, 2019|
|Source: The Daily Star|
|Bahrain revokes citizenships, sentences 69 to life in prison|
|DUBAI: A Bahraini court sentenced 69 people to life in prison and revoked the citizenship of 138 defendants on terrorism-related charges, the public prosecutor said Tuesday, in one of the largest mass trials ever held in the country. It also marked the single largest revocation of citizenship in Bahrain.|
The Europe-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy said the verdict brings to 990 the number of people ordered stripped of their nationality since 2012.
Critics say authorities in Bahrain have increasingly used a law allowing the government to withdraw Bahraini citizenship from people charged with terrorism-related activities to also target political activists and human rights advocates.
The public prosecutor’s office said 70 defendants in Tuesday’s case were sentenced to between three years and 10 years imprisonment. Close to 100 suspects were fined roughly $265,000 each.
The defendants, of which 109 are in custody and 60 were tried in absentia, can appeal.
Charges against the group include forming a terrorist cell inside Bahrain with help from Iran, launching terrorist attacks, and training and using weapons and explosives. The group was labeled as “Hezbollah Bahrain.”
Some members had received military training in Lebanon, Iran and Iraq, prosecutor Ahmad al-Hammadi said in a statement.
Based on the names of the defendants, all appear to be Shiite Bahrainis, said Sayed Ahmed al-Wadaei, director of advocacy at BIRD.
Amid the crackdown, local Shiite militant groups have carried out numerous attacks on security forces.
In another recent mass trial in February, 167 people were convicted, primarily for participation in a nonviolent sit-in, Amnesty said.
In May of last year, 115 people were stripped of their citizens