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Bahrain opposition leader awarded retrial

Salman was sentenced to nine years in jail on several charges, including forceful regime change attempt

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Ali Salman, the head of Al Wefaq Society was arrested for speeches, sermons that allegedly promoted extremist views.
Gulf News

Manama: Bahrain’s Cassation Court on Monday overturned a ruling by the Appeals Court to jail Ali Salman, the head of Al Wefaq Society, for nine years.

The highest court in the country ordered a retrial by the Appeals Court five months after it stretched his initial jail term of four years to nine years by including the charge of forceful government change.

Ali Salman was arrested on December 28, 2014 and the Higher Criminal Court on June 26, 2015 sentenced him to two years in jail after he was convicted on charges of “publicly inciting hatred, an act which disturbed public peace, and insulting public institutions” and to two more years for “inciting non-compliance with the law.”

According to the case documents, Ali Salman was convicted following investigations into recordings of public speeches and sermons that promoted extremist views, incited violence, and encouraged the use of force against the Kingdom’s authorities.

The court dropped the more serious charge of “promoting the overthrow of the political system through the use of force and threats.”

However, both Ali Salman and the public prosecutor appealed the sentence, sending it to the Court of Appeals for review.

His lawyers pleaded for his full acquittal while the Public Prosecution said it did not agree with the court’s decision to acquit the defendant of the charge of promoting political change using forceful means and threats and wanted to include it in the trial.

The prosecution also challenged the length of the sentences, arguing that they did not reflect the seriousness of the offences.

The court in June included the forceful regime change attempt charge and ruled to toughen the sentence against Ali Salman by five years.

Under the new ruling, Ali Salman was to spend a total of nine years in jail.