BEIRUT

Middle East

Bahrain court cuts jail terms of two Shiite teachers

Bahrainis shout anti-government slogans during a pro-democracy march on the outskirts of Manama, Bahrain, on Friday, Oct. 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

DUBAI: Bahrain's appeals court on Sunday cut the jail terms of two Shiite leading members of the teacher's union, charged with calling to topple the Sunni monarchy during last year's protests, lawyers said.

The court halved the 10-year jail sentence against the head of the teachers union, Mahdi Abu Deeb, and reduced the three-year imprisonment sentence meted out against his deputy Jalila al-Salman to six months, lawyers said.

Abu Deeb, who has been behind bar since April last year, appeared in court, while Salman did not show up. She has been out on bail since August last year after spending around five months in jail.

The earlier sentences were issued by a special quasi-military court set up after security forces backed by a Saudi-led Gulf contingent quelled a month-long protest in mid-March last year.

The duo were charged with exploiting their union positions to instigate protests, calling for teachers' strikes and shutting down of schools, as well as calling to topple the regime by force.

Scores of Shiites, including medics, have been tried and jailed for taking part in protests that demanded democratic change in the Shiite-majority Gulf state.

Bahrain came under strong criticism from international rights groups over last year's crackdown on protests.

An international panel commissioned by King Hamad to probe the clampdown found that excessive force and torture had been used against protesters and detainees.

According to the International Federation for Human Rights, a total of 80 people have been killed in Bahrain since the violence began on February 14, 2011.

Bahrain, home to the US Fifth Fleet and strategically situated across the Gulf from Iran, has continued to witness sporadic demonstrations, mostly outside the capital Manama.

 

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