Bahrain executes 2 in terrorism case decried by activists

Execution of Shiite defendants goes ahead despite last minute appeal by Human Rights Watch citing allegations of torture

A view of the Manama skyline, Bahrain. (CC-BY Jayson De Leon/Wikimedia Commons)
A view of the Manama skyline, Bahrain. (CC-BY Jayson De Leon/Wikimedia Commons)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Bahrain has executed two men convicted in a mass terrorism trial that activists have decried and that UN human rights experts had expressed concerns over.

Activists identified the two as Ali al-Arab and Ahmed al-Malali.

Attorney General Ahmed al-Hammadi said in a statement released on the Public Prosecution’s Instagram page on Saturday that the men, who were not named in the statement, were involved in terrorist operations that killed a security officer, among other charges.

UN human rights experts had appealed to Bahrain to halt their executions amid concerns they were coerced into making confessions through torture and did not receive a fair trial.

Both defendants were Shiite, judicial sources said, without confirming their names.

File: Bahrain riot police stand guard during clashes with protesters following a demonstration in the village of Daih, west of the capital Manama on January 4, 2016. (AFP Photo/Mohammed Al-Shaikh)

The small Gulf state, a key US ally located between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran, has been gripped by bouts of unrest since 2011, when authorities cracked down on Shiite-led protests demanding political reform.

The two men, arrested separately in February 2017, were both sentenced to death in January last year after a mass trial with 58 other defendants that was marred by allegations of torture.

Their families had been called to the prison on Friday for a final visit, Human Rights Watch said.

In an 11th hour appeal for clemency, HRW’s acting Middle East director Lama Fakih warned that King Hamad was committing a “grave injustice by ratifying the death sentences of the two men despite the allegations of torture and other serious due process concerns.”

Ruled for more than two centuries by the Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty, Bahrain is mostly Shiite Muslim, according to unofficial estimates contested by the government.

Hundreds of protesters have been jailed since 2011, with Bahrain claiming Iran trained and backed demonstrators in order to topple the Manama government — an accusation Tehran denies.

All opposition groups have been outlawed and disbanded.

Bahrain said a third man was also executed Saturday, but he wasn’t identified and was convicted of murder in a separate trial unrelated to terrorism.

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