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Bahrain upholds death penalties over bomb attack on police

Rights campaigners say men convicted of 2014 attack, which killed Bahraini and Emirati police, were tortured into confessing
A Bahrain police officer during a protest west of Manama in 2013 (AFP)

A Bahraini court on Sunday upheld three death sentences and seven life terms against a "terrorist" group convicted of killing police including an Emirati officer in a bomb attack, a judicial source said.

The court of cassation in October ordered a retrial in the case of the 10 defendants found guilty of planting a bomb in March 2014 in a Shia-majority village west of Manama, which killed an Emirati officer and two Bahraini policemen.

An appeals court had upheld the three death sentences and life terms for the other seven defendants, who were also stripped of their citizenships.

The Emirati officer was part of the Saudi-led Gulf force which rolled into Bahrain in March 2011 to bolster Bahraini forces in quelling a month-long protest dominated by island's Shia majority.

The interior ministry said the bomb exploded during a riot in the village of Daih.

"Terrorists planted the bomb near a lamp post," it said at the time. "The device was remotely detonated while police were securing the roads and restoring order."

Eight men were later arrested and tried in February 2015. Abbas al-Samea, Ali al-Singace and Sami Mushaima were sentenced to death, while the others were jailed for life.

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, the advocacy director at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, said the accused's confessions were extracted through torture.

“Given the lack of due process and the inclusion of confessions obtained under torture, these sentences are a mockery of justice," he said.

"Without an independent judiciary, such breaches of justice, including the public prosecutor's reliance on confessions obtained under torture, has become the norm in Bahrain."

Alwadaei said Samea, Mushaima and Singace were transferred shortly after their sentencing to Jau prison, where Bahrain admits inmates have been beaten and subjected to abuse.

"Two weeks later, a riot erupted in the prison, in response to overcrowding and abusive treatment of inmates.

"A small number of prisoners, Samea among them, were selected for transfer to 'Building 10,' where torture continued apace. Samea's nose was broken and his teeth were knocked out."

Hundreds of Shia Muslims have been arrested and put on trial since the crackdown on the protests that took their cue from Arab Spring uprisings and called for a constitutional monarchy with an elected prime minister in the Sunni-ruled Gulf state.

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