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Bahrain jails opposition chief Ali Salman for 4 years

Shia leader, head of the opposition movement Al-Wefaq, was convicted of inciting disobedience and hatred in Bahrain
Bahraini protesters hold placards portraying Sheikh Ali Salman during a demonstration against his arrest, on 8 May, west of Manama (AFP)

A Bahrain court jailed Shia opposition leader Ali Salman for four years on Tuesday after convicting him of inciting disobedience and hatred in the Sunni-ruled kingdom, a judicial source said.

But the court acquitted him of the more serious charge of seeking to overthrow the monarchy and change the political system, the source added.

Salman, 49, was also found guilty of "insulting an official body," the source said, referring to the interior ministry. 

His arrest on 28 December drew condemnation from both the United States and Iran, as well as human rights groups.

It also triggered demonstrations across the kingdom.

Tiny but strategic Bahrain, which is home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet, has been rocked by unrest since a 2011 Shia-led uprising demanding a constitutional monarchy and more representative government.

At least 89 people have been killed in clashes with security forces since 2011, while hundreds have been arrested and put on trial, rights groups say.