[JURIST] The defense lawyer for prominent Shiite leader Sheikh Ali Salman said Sunday that his client is facing four charges from Bahrain prosecutors carrying sentences that range from three years to life in prison. Salman’s lawyer reported [AP report] that the charges include inciting a change of government by force, inciting hatred of a segment of society, inciting others to break the law and insulting the Interior Ministry. Salman is currently secretary general of the opposition group known as the Al-Wefaq party [GU Berkley Center backgrounder], which has been recently ordered by Bahrain’s Ministry of Justice [official website, in Arabic] to suspend [JURIST report] all activities. The charges against Salman are related to numerous speeches he has made in opposition to the government since 2012. Salman has been currently under arrest for a week which has caused further conflict between protesters and Bahrain police.
Political tensions remain high in Bahrain following protests that began in 2011. In July Salman was charged over meeting with a US diplomat [JURIST report]. In April a Bahrain court sentenced [JURIST report] eight activists to life in prison for killing a policeman and participating in anti-regime protests the previous August. In March a Bahrain court sentenced [JURIST report] 13 citizens to life in prison and one man to 10 years in prison for attempting to kill a police officer and participating in an illegal protest. Also in March Bahrain’s Fourth High Criminal Court convicted 11 defendants [JURIST report] of possessing weapons, ammunition and explosives and of manufacturing bombs for terror purposes, which resulted in 15-year prison sentences for the accused and significant fines. In late 2013 a judge in Bahrain rejected [JURIST report] a request from human rights activist Nabeel Rajab to approve his conditional early release, for which Rajab was eligible under Bahraini law. US Department of State spokeswoman Jen Psaki commented that the US continues to urge Bahrain to permit all sectors of society to peacefully voice their political views.