Bahrain sentences 13 Shiite to life in prison for peaceful protest

 yA defense lawyer says a court in Bahrain has sentenced 13 people to life in prison for allegedly attempting to kill a policeman, attacking a police car and taking part in anti-regime protests.

Lawyer Mohammad Al-Tajir says another person was sentenced to 10 years in jail in the same case on Sunday.

The case relates to an incident that took place outside the capital city of Manama in March 2012, during the start of a wave of anti-government protests. The kingdom’s Shiites including some Sunni Muslims began protesting en masse that year for greater rights from the tiny island nation’s Saudi-backed al-Khalifa monarchy.

Al-Tajir told The Associated Press that many of the 14 Bahrainis convicted are 18 years old and that the defense plans to appeal.

On March 26, another court in Bahrain handed jail terms of up to 10 years to 29 anti-regime protesters.

The prosecution accused the men of being behind an attack with petrol bombs and iron rods on a police center in the village of Sitra, south of Manama, in April 2012. A policeman was wounded in the incident.

The defendants, however, dismissed the accusations, insisting that they were tortured and their confessions were obtained under duress.

Since mid-February 2011, thousands of pro-democracy protesters have held numerous demonstrations in the streets of Bahrain, calling for the Al Khalifa royal family to relinquish power.

On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates invaded the country to assist the Bahraini government in its crackdown on peaceful protesters.

Scores of Bahrainis have been killed and hundreds injured and jailed by the regime forces since the uprising broke out.

Last month, Amnesty International denounced the “relentless repression” of anti-regime protesters in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom, blaming Bahraini security forces for their repeated use of “excessive force to quash anti-government protests.”