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Tue 16 Apr 2019 05:24 PM

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Bahrain jails 138 for planning Iran-linked 'terror' group

Public prosecutor says prison terms of three years to life are handed down for trying to build a Bahrain Hezbollah

Bahrain jails 138 for planning Iran-linked 'terror' group
Authorities have jailed dozens of high-profile activists and disbanded both religious and secular opposition groups since Shiite-led protests demanding political change erupted in 2011.

Bahrain on Tuesday jailed 138 people and revoked their citizenship for plotting to form a "terror" group with links to Iran's Revolutionary Guards, the public prosecutor said.

They received prison terms of three years to life for having tried to build a Bahrain Hezbollah, similar to the Shiite militia active in Lebanon, said Ahmad al-Hammadi.

Some members had received military training in Lebanon, Iran and Iraq, he said in a statement.

Another man was also jailed but his citizenship was not revoked, while 30 others were acquitted, said the statement posted on the prosecution Instagram account.

A judicial source said all the defendants are members of the Shiite community in the Sunni-ruled Gulf state.

The source also said that 111 were already in custody while 58 were sentenced in absentia.

The mass sentencing was "the largest single incident" since the Bahraini government began revoking nationalities of opponents in 2012, said the opposition Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy.

Manama had stripped the nationalities of 990 people since 2012, including 180 this year, it said.

Global rights group Amnesty International condemned the court decision to strip the convicts of their citizenship, saying "this amounts to mass arbitrary denaturalisation".

The prosecutor said that 69 defendants were sentenced to life in jail, 39 to 10 years, 23 to seven years and the rest to between three and five years imprisonment.

Ninety-six of the defendants were also fined 100,000 Bahraini dinars ($265,000) each.

Bahrain's population is majority Shiite Muslim, according to unofficial estimates that are contested by the government.

Authorities have jailed dozens of high-profile activists and disbanded both religious and secular opposition groups since Shiite-led protests demanding political change erupted in 2011.

They have stripped hundreds of those convicted of their citizenship, leaving many stateless.