Bahraini court jails protesters for life in rights crackdown
A security court in Bahrain sentenced eight Shia activists to life in prison yesterday and issued long jail terms for 13 others in the latest blow by authorities waging a crackdown against protesters seeking better human rights in the Gulf kingdom.
Shia crowds blocked roads with sand piles and called for protest marches -- suggesting the court decision could spark another round of unrest after months of a security lockdown by the military in Bahrain, a key US military ally.
The sentences also could imperil US-backed efforts by Bahrain's Sunni leaders to open talks next week with Shia groups, which have demanded an end to the political trials and the withdrawal of a Saudi-led regional force helping prop up the Bahrain ruling family.
Shias account for 70pc of Bahrain's population, but claim they face systematic discrimination such as being barred from top government and political posts.