A court in Bahrain has sentenced 58 people on terrorism charges, condemning two of them to death and stripping citizenship from 47. The ruling is the latest in a series of scores of harsh penalties in the Western-allied Gulf kingdom for defendants accused of Iranian-backed militancy but who activists say are mostly peaceful opposition members.
The accused were part of a terrorist cell trained in the use of heavy weaponry and explosives and were operating in the kingdom. The court sentenced 19 to life and 37 for terms up to 15 years and 2 to death.
Bahrain accuses mainly Shi‘ite Iran of stoking militancy in the kingdom, which Tehran denies. Bahrain, a strategic island where the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet is based, has a Shi‘ite Muslim majority population but is ruled by a Sunni royal family.
Bahrain has seen occasional unrest since 2011 when authorities crushed protests mainly by the Shi‘ite community demanding a bigger role in running the country.