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Bahrain says jails 14 for killing Pakistani

Oct 3, 2011, 6:31 a.m.

By Jason Benham

DUBAI (Reuters) - Bahrain handed out life sentences Monday to 14 men for killing a Pakistani national during pro-democracy protests led by the Gulf kingdom's Shi'ite majority earlier this year, the state news agency BNA said.

A military court also sentenced 15 others to 15 years in prison each for the attempted murder of a soldier, vandalizing buildings at the University of Bahrain and "inciting hatred of the ruling system," the agency said.

Another six received 15 years each for intent to murder several people at the university, while a seventh was given 18 years. They were charged with setting a building on fire to kill those on an upper floor.

Bahrain's Sunni Muslim rulers quashed the protests in March, with the help of troops from fellow Sunni neighbors Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. At least 30 people were killed, hundreds wounded and more than 1,000 detained -- mostly Shi'ites -- in the crackdown.

Pakistani national Abdulmalik Ghulam Rasool -- killed in March -- was assaulted with wooden planks and metal bars as he left his home in Manama, BNA said, adding that the 14 were also charged with intending to cause riots and commit other crimes.

Those jailed in all three cases were convicted for "spreading terror," BNA said.

The court rejected requests by lawyers in the three cases for an independent medical committee to investigate allegations that the defendants had been tortured, Mattar Mattar, a member of the largest Shi'ite opposition group Wefaq, told Reuters.

"The lawyers said that a lot of the detainees were forced to give confessions," he said. "This brings the focus on the importance of having a progressive and independent judiciary system in Bahrain."

The United Nations said Friday that sentences handed down to 20 Bahraini doctors followed flawed trials that failed to meet international standards of transparency and due process.

The World Medical Association also condemned as "totally unacceptable" the jail terms imposed by a military court.

A military court sentenced the doctors to jail Thursday for between 5 and 15 years for occupation of a medical complex, using ambulances to transport protesters, storing weapons and other charges.

Bahrain faces almost daily protests by Shi'ites, angry over a crackdown in which thousands lost their jobs and over government reform plans that fall short of giving the Gulf state's elected parliament full legislative powers.

Last week a military appeals court upheld life sentences for eight of 21 opposition leaders, rights activists and online activists accused of leading the uprising earlier this year.

(Reporting by Jason Benham; Editing by Alistair Lyon)

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