Bahrain’s Supreme Court on Monday upheld life sentences issued against Sheikh Ali Salman, the secretary general of the now-dissolved al-Wefaq movement, and two senior al-Wefaq leaders, Sheikh Hassan Sultan and Ali Alaswad, in November last year on charges of spying for Qatar.
“We are deeply concerned that these convictions are due to their opposition to the Bahraini Government and its policies,” Marta Hurtado, a spokeswoman for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), said in an e-mailed statement on Friday, Reuters reported.
Salman has been in custody in Bahrain since 2015. Sultan and Alaswad have been tried in absentia.
“There are also serious doubts concerning whether the court proceedings respected the right to a fair trial,” Hurtado said.
Qatar, against which Saudi Arabia and some of its allies have launched an economic and political war, has denied accusations of conspiring with Salman against Bahrain.
The upholding of the rulings against Salman and his two colleagues also sparked condemnation by the European Union (EU), which censured the court’s decision as “a further step against dissenting voices.”
Amnesty International, too, has censured that higher court ruling.
Thousands of anti-regime protesters have regularly held demonstrations in Bahrain ever since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February 2011. The protesters are demanding that the Al Khalifa dynasty relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.
Manama has gone to great lengths to crack down on any sign of dissent. In March 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.
Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or gotten arrested in the Al Khalifa regime’s crackdown.