A Bahraini military court has sentenced four Shiite protesters to death over the killing of two policemen during anti-government protests in February. Three other protestors were sentenced to life in prison. Those were the first verdicts after the start of sectarian riots in the Kingdom, which left over 30 dead.
The seven were tried behind closed doors on charges of premeditated murder of four policemen. They lawyers denied the charges.
Government officials said that the policemen were killed during the unrest in February and March, at least three of whom were run over by cars around 16 March. Footage was broadcast on TV showing the cars running over the policemen. Earlier this month, the authorities banned media from covering legal proceedings in the country's military courts.
April 26, 2011
Analysis and Forecast: Increasing Risk
The sentencing is the first as a result of the riots. Whilst the sentencing is subject to appeal and will almost certainly be appealed, it further complicates the situation in Bahrain. Leading Shiite scholars in the country have condemned the ruling, calling it politicized. The US has also called the Bahrain King to instigate reforms.
As a result of the foreign media ban, little information is being provided about the situation in the country. However, reports suggest that unrest continues in the Shiite towns and villages. The recent sentencing that came so quickly after the alleged killings indicates that the situation between the regime and Shiite population is as tense as it has been. The country continues to face civil unrest and with no solution in sight, the Bahraini economy will continue to pile up its losses.
The figure below shows the ethnic make-up of Bahrain: