UN chief Ban Ki-moon Wednesday sharply criticized tough jail terms imposed on 13 leading Bahraini opposition figures, calling on the country's leaders to ensure the right to a fair trial.
"The secretary-general is concerned by the harsh sentences, including life imprisonment, upheld by a Bahrain appeals court," Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky said in a statement.
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The jail terms, which included seven life sentences, were imposed for charges of plotting to overthrow the Sunni Gulf monarchy during last year's Shiite-led protests.
Ban "urges the Bahraini authorities to allow all defendants to exercise their right to appeal and to ensure that due process is observed."
And he "reiterates his appeal to the Bahraini authorities to ensure the application of international human rights norms, including the right to a fair trial, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly," the statement added.
The UN chief also renewed his belief "that there needs to be an all-inclusive and meaningful national dialogue that addresses the legitimate aspirations of all Bahrainis."