Bahraini riot police deploy at Pearl Square in the Bahraini capital Manama on March 16, 2011
Bahraini riot police deploy at Pearl Square in the Bahraini capital Manama on March 16, 2011. A Bahraini appeals court on Wednesday commuted to life imprisonment the death sentences of two Shiites convicted of killing two policemen during last year's unrest, lawyers said. © - AFP/File
Bahraini riot police deploy at Pearl Square in the Bahraini capital Manama on March 16, 2011
AFP
Last updated: December 26, 2012

Bahrain commutes death terms of police assailants

A Bahraini appeals court on Wednesday commuted to life imprisonment the death sentences of two Shiites convicted of killing two policemen during last year's unrest, lawyers said.

Ali Abdullah Hasan al-Singace and Abdul Aziz Hussein, who were sentenced by a special Bahraini court in May last year, will now be jailed for life.

The court reduced the terms of four others held over the same case from life imprisonment to 15 years in jail, the lawyers said. A seventh defendant, whose sentence was also commuted to 15 years behind bars, remains at large.

The group, all Shiites, were accused of running over policemen Kashif Ahmed Manzur and Mohammed Farouk Abdulsamad during the uprising in the Sunni-ruled kingdom.

Their trial began on April 17 last year, with state media reporting at the time that the defendants were accused of committing voluntary homicide of public officials with "terrorist" intentions.

The national safety court's verdict the next month drew international condemnation, with Amnesty International urging Bahrain to scrap the executions.

The court was set up under a state of national safety, a lower level of emergency law declared by King Hamad in mid-March 2011. In June that year, the king lifted the measure.

Since February last year, Bahrain has been shaken by Shiite-led opposition protests that the authorities accuse of being exploited by Shiite Iran across the Gulf.

Meanwhile, rights activist Yousif al-Muhafda remained behind bars after the public prosecution on Tuesday renewed his detention for 15 days, the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) said in a statement.

Muhafda, a leading member of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, and an active Tweeter on Bahrain protests, was arrested during a demonstration in Manama on December 17, the FIDH said.

The FIDH urged Bahraini authorities to release Muhafda "immediately and unconditionally," charging his arrest appeared to be aimed at "sanctioning and hindering his human rights activities."

At least 80 people have died since the start of the unrest in February 2011, according to FIDH.

The opposition in Shiite-majority Bahrain insists the premier stand down and that the government be headed by the leader of the elected majority in parliament.

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