Bahrain has a majority Shiite population but is ruled by a Sunni dynasty
Thousands of Shiite supporters demonstrate during last year's pro-democracy protests in Manama. Bahrain's cassation court has annulled the death sentences of two Shiites and the life imprisonment of three others convicted of killing two policemen in unrest last year, a lawyer said. © Joseph Eid - AFP/File
Bahrain has a majority Shiite population but is ruled by a Sunni dynasty
AFP
Last updated: January 9, 2012

Bahrain court overturns death terms of two Shiites

Bahrain's cassation court on Monday annulled the death sentences of two Shiites and the life imprisonment of three others convicted of killing two policemen in unrest last year, a lawyer said.

Ali Abdullah Hasan al-Singace and Abdul Aziz Abdullah Ibrahim Hussein were sentenced to death by a semi-military court established under a state of "national safety" declared by King Hamad ahead of the mid-March crackdown on the Shiite-led, month-long protests demanding democratic change.

"The verdicts were annulled and sent to the lower court of appeal," said lawyer Mohsen al-Alawi, part of the team defending Singace.

Initially, the National Safety Court of First Instance last April sentenced four defendants to death, and three to life in jail, including two tried in absentia.

An appeal court commuted the sentences of two of the convicts to life in prison and upheld the death sentence of Singace and Hussein. The verdicts against those at large were not appealed.

"This is a positive verdict. We are optimistic," said Alawi, pointing out that a new witness, a policeman, has surfaced since the appeal verdict was announced, claiming the charges were "fabricated."

"His statement has been taken by the public prosecution and we shall use it," in the forthcoming retrial, he said.

The seven were accused of running over two policemen -- Kashif Ahmed Manzur and Mohammed Farouk Abdulsamad.

Their trial began on April 17, with BNA state news agency reporting at the time that the defendants were accused of committing voluntary homicide of public officials with "terrorist" aims.

Witnesses addressed the tribunal and a video allegedly showing the attackers in cars hitting police was played, according to the agency.

An international probe into Bahrain's crackdown on the protests found that 35 people were killed in the unrest, including five security personnel and five detainees who were tortured to death in custody. Hundreds were injured.

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