Eight of the 21 defendants received life sentences
Source: Press TV
A military court in Bahrain has sentenced eight opposition activists to life in prison for "plotting to overthrow the ruling system."
The special security court also handed sentences of up to 15 years to 13 other activists on Wednesday. Seven people were sentenced in absentia.
Bahraini authorities claim that those charged were trying to overthrow Bahraini government "by force and intelligence with a terror group colluding with a foreign country."
Witnesses said that after the judge read the sentences, the defendants pumped their fists in the air and shouted "peacefully" and vowed to continue their protest campaign against the rule of Al Khalifa dynasty.
Maryam al-Khawaja, head of foreign relations office of Bahrain Center for Human Rights, said the court's guards beat the defendants and dragged them away from the courtroom after they spoke out against the unfair verdicts.
"Peaceful, peaceful, peaceful. Our people want freedom," shouted leader of the Waad party Ibrahim Sharif, who was sentenced to five years in jail.
"We will continue to fight for our rights and our people," human rights activists Abdulhadi al-Khawaja shouted as he was sentenced to life in prison.
Al-Khawaja's daughter, Zeinab, who was also at the court, protested at the verdicts, shouting "God is great" for three times.
She was hustled out of the courtroom by security guards and arrested on charge of contempt of court. After signing a number of pledges, however, she was released.
Ahead of the trial, anti-government activists set up roadblocks outside the courtroom and held rallies in support of the jailed anti-regime protesters.
According to Bahrain's official news agency, BNA, the activists have 15 days to appeal the rulings.
Those who received life sentences are:
1) Abdul Wahhab Hussain
2) Hassan Mushaima, the secretary-general of the Haq opposition party, who returned from self-imposed exile in Britain in February after the government dropped charges against him in a bid to appease protesters.
3) Abdul Jalil al-Muqdad
4) Abdul Jalil al-Singance, head of the Haq Movement for Liberty and Democracy
5) Saeed Mirza al-Nouri
6) Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, prominent human rights activists
7) Saeed al-Shehabi (in absentia)
8) Mohammed Habib al-Saffaf (al-Muqdad)
The court also sentenced Mohammed Jawad to 15 years in jail. In addition, five activists, including Ebrahin Sharif, Abdulhadi al-Mukhodher, Abdulla al-Mahroos, Salah al-Khawaja, Mohammed Ali Radhi, were given 5 years behind bars.
Al-Hur al-Sumaikh received a two-year jail term.
Those who were tried in absentia are:
1) Aqeel al-Safir (15 years imprisonment)
2) Abdul Raouf al-Shayeb (15 years imprisonment)
3) Abbas al-Omran (15 years imprisonment)
4) Ali Mushaima, Hassan Mushaima's son (15 years imprisonment)
5) Abdulghani Khanjar (15 years imprisonment)
6) Ali Abdulemam, an outspoken government critic known as the "Bahraini blogger" (15 years imprisonment)
7) Saeed al-Shehabi (life imprisonment)