[JURIST] A Bahraini court on Tuesday sentenced prominent Shiite leader Sheikh Ali Salman [official profile] to four years in prison for insulting the Interior Ministry [official website], inciting others to break the law, and inciting hatred against naturalized Sunnis. Salman is the secretary-general of the Al-Wefaq [official website] political opposition group, and was arrested in late December [JURIST report] for speeches made between 2012 and 2014. Salman was found not guilty [AP report] for inciting violence and calling for the overthrow of the monarch. Had he been convicted for those offenses [JURIST report], Salman could have faced a life sentence in prison.
Bahrain has been the center of tension between police and protestors since protests began in the country in 2011. In April reforms in Bahrain failed to end [JURIST report] serious human rights violations, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] reported. The report claimed that activists were still being jailed and detainees were mistreated and tortured. In February a Bahraini court found 11 Shiites guilty of an attack [JURIST report] carried out against police 2013, and three Shiites were sentenced to death as a result. The other eight defendants were sentenced to life in prison, and their citizenship was stripped. Also in February Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior initiated a criminal investigation [JURIST report] into alleged criminal content posted by the country’s main opposition group, the Al-Wefaq. In early February a group of UN human rights urged [JURIST report] the Bahrain government to release Salman.