A Bahrain [JURIST news archive] civilian-military court on Wednesday sentenced 19 more protesters to prison terms of up to five years, bringing the total number of protesters sentenced this week to 85. The court sentenced 13 protesters to five years in prison and six people to one year for their participation in protests seeking greater rights for the Shiite majority [AP report]. One of the sentenced protesters is 16-year-old Iraqi soccer player, Zulfiqar Naji, whose arrest has sparked protests in Iraq [Al Arabiya report] calling for his release. The court on Tuesday sentenced 26 protesters, including prominent members of the Shiite political group, to prison terms ranging from 5-15 years and on Monday sentenced 40 protesters [JURIST reports], including university students, to 15-25 years for crimes ranging from rioting to attempted murder. The Bahrain courts have been criticized for their severity [BBC report], especially in light of the five 15-year prison terms issued to doctors and nurses convicted of rendering aid to protesters. Bahraini doctors and nurses on Saturday urged the UN to investigate claims of abuse and due process violations [JURIST report] in relation to their recent convictions. Last week, the National Safety Court of Appeal sentenced [JURIST report] one anti-government protester to death for killing a police officer and gave lengthy prison sentences to medical personnel, including doctors, for providing treatment to injured protesters during the country's uprising.
Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa [official profile] announced in August that he will dismiss charges against some of the protesters [JURIST report] detained for their participation in pro-democracy demonstrations in the country. In June, Khalifa announced that an independent commission will investigate human rights violations [JURIST report] related to the country's pro-democracy protests. Earlier that month, the OHCHR announced that Bahrain agreed to permit a UN commission [JURIST report] to investigate human rights violations related to protests. The National Safety Courts were instituted in mid-March under Khalifa's three-month state of emergency [JURIST report] and have been internationally criticized, most recently [JURIST report] by Human Rights Watch (HRW). The court sentenced nine citizens [JURIST report] to 20 years in prison for kidnapping a police officer in May. In April, the court handed the death sentence to four protesters, a rarity in Bahrain, and upheld the sentences [JURIST reports] for two of the men who were accused of murdering police officers. All of the charges levied in the National Safety Court have been disputed by Bahraini citizens and international rights organizations.