Bahrain court upholds verdicts against group accused of coup attempt

Bahraini demonstrators hold posters of Abdulhadi al-Khawajah, one of 13 defendants accused of attempting a coup.

Story highlights

  • Seven of the sentences upheld are for life in prison
  • The group was arrested for its role in anti-government demonstrations
  • Protests in Bahrain failed to gain the traction of other Arab Spring uprisings after a crackdown

A Bahrain appeals court has upheld all verdicts against 13 defendants accused of plotting to overthrow the regime and breaching the constitution, authorities said Tuesday.

Seven of the sentences upheld were for life in prison, and one of the people sentenced was Abdulhadi al-Khawajah, a prominent activist who ended a 110-day hunger strike earlier this year.

The court also reduced the sentence of a 14th defendant to five years and convicted six others, Bahrain's Information Affairs Authority said.

The group was arrested for its role in anti-government demonstrations last year as the Arab Spring movement swept across the region.

Demonstrations in Bahrain failed to gain the traction of other Arab Spring uprisings after a crackdown by authorities in the island state, backed by troops from nearby Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Last November, Bahrain's Independent Commission of Inquiry issued a report critical of authorities' reactions to the protests, which began in February 2011, spurred by uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

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Bahrain plays a key strategic role in the Middle East and is home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet headquarters.

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