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Bahrain sentences 2 to death for policeman’s killing

December 29, 2014

MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — A court in Bahrain on Monday sentenced two people to death and handed a third a life sentence on charges related to the killing of a policeman by a homemade bomb in February outside the capital Manama, a defense lawyer said.

Lawyer Manar Makki said another nine people in the case were sentenced to six years imprisonment. All have the right to appeal.

Anti-government activists, primarily from the Arab Gulf monarchy’s Shiite majority, frequently clash with police, and hard-line protesters have at times used improvised explosives. This month, a policeman and a civilian were killed in separate explosions. Three policemen were wounded in a third blast.

Also on Monday, protesters took to the streets again to demand the release of Shiite opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman. He has been held by authorities since Sunday morning after he was summoned by Interior Ministry officials for questioning.

His lawyer said Salman has been accused of inciting hatred against the Sunni-led monarchy and calling for its overthrow by force.

Salman, the leader of the main opposition group al-Wefaq, was transferred to public prosecutors where he could face formal charges. The Public Prosecutor’s office said on its official Twitter account Monday that Salman would remain detained overnight for further questioning and investigation without giving further details.

Al-Wefaq boycotted last month’s parliamentary elections. The group is calling for greater power-sharing between elected lawmakers and the monarchy, the release of political prisoners and a prime minister chosen by elected officials and not the king.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham commented after Salman’s arrest that the security conditions in Bahrain will only deepen the island nation’s political stand-off.

“Resorting to such policies merely lead to further complication of the conditions,” Afkham said in remarks carried by Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency.

She urged Bahraini officials to hold serious national dialogue talks between the government and political factions.

Bahrain and its Sunni allies, primarily Saudi Arabia, have accused Iran of meddling in the region’s internal affairs. Gulf Arab countries sent regional forces to Bahrain in 2011 at the height of protests to help quell the Shiite uprising.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke responded to Salman’s arrest by saying that “we’re urging all parties to avoid taking any actions that escalate tensions.”

He added that the charges brought against Salman were still unclear and that Bahrain must provide equal treatment under the law and seek to “advance justice in a transparent and fair and predictable way.”

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Bradley Klapper contributed to this report from Washington, D.C.

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