The European Union (EU) has censured a ruling by Bahrain’s Supreme Court to uphold a life sentence for prominent opposition figure Sheikh Ali Salman as “a further step against dissenting voices.”
Bahrain’s highest court on Monday upheld life sentences issued against Sheikh Ali Salman, who is the secretary general of the now-dissolved al-Wefaq movement, and two senior al-Wefaq leaders, Sheikh Hassan Sultan and Ali Alaswad, in November last year on charges of spying for Qatar.
The final “verdict marks a further step against dissenting voices and undermines the residual chances for an inclusive political dialogue in the Kingdom of Bahrain,” an EU spokesperson said in a statement on Monday.
Brussels also reiterated its “concerns over the increasingly limited political space in Bahrain.”
Human rights groups have frequently said cases against activists in Bahrain fail to meet the fundamental requirements of fair trials.
“The European Union expects Bahrain to fulfill its international and national Human Rights obligations, including guaranteeing the right to a fair trial, in the interest of the long term stability of the country and its citizens,” the statement added.
The Monday ruling was also condemned by Amnesty International, which described the verdict as another blow to the freedom of expression in Bahrain.
Amnesty International blasts Bahrain for upholding a life sentence against prominent Shia cleric and opposition figure Sheikh Ali Salman.
Thousands of anti-regime protesters have regularly held demonstrations in Bahrain ever since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February 2011.
They are demanding that the Al Khalifah dynasty relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.
Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. In March 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.
Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or gotten arrested in the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown.