Amnesty International has blasted Bahrain for upholding a life sentence against prominent Shia cleric and opposition figure Sheikh Ali Salman, describing the verdict as another blow to the freedom of expression in the country.
The Court of Cassation in Bahrain on Monday confirmed life imprisonment sentences against the 53-year-old Sheikh Salman, who is the secretary general of the now-dissolved al-Wefaq movement, and two of his assistants over charges of colluding with Qatar to commit subversion.
“Today’s verdict is yet another nail in the coffin for the right to freedom of expression in Bahrain and exposes the country’s justice system as a complete farce. The decision to uphold Sheikh Ali Salman’s conviction and life prison sentence following an unfair trial highlights the authorities’ determination to silence critical voices,” said Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East director of campaigns.
“The Bahraini authorities must quash Sheikh Ali Salman’s conviction and release him immediately and unconditionally. They should also rescind the decision to dissolve the two opposition political groups, al-Wefaq and Wa’ad, and guarantee the right of everyone to freedom of association,” she added, referring to another political movement dissolved by the Bahraini regime.
Sheikh Salman, along with two senior al-Wefaq leaders, namely Sheikh Hassan Sultan and Ali Alaswad, had been charged in November last year with “communicating with Qatar to commit hostile acts aimed at destabilizing the state.”