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115 stripped of citizenship in terror trial, 53 get life sentence

Bahrain News
Wed, 16 May 2018
By Noor Zahra

FIFTY-THREE people have been sentenced to life behind bars for being part of a major terrorist group.

They were among 115 people found guilty in a high-profile trial linked to the Dhu Al Faqqar Brigades, an Iranian-backed militia group in Bahrain blamed for a spate of bombings targeting police.

All those convicted also had their citizenships revoked as verdicts were handed down by the High Criminal Court yesterday.

Three of the defendants were sentenced to 15 years in jail, while one got 10 years, 15 got seven years, 37 got five years and six got three years.

A total of 138 people had been charged in connection with the Dhu Al Faqqar Brigades group, but 23 of them were acquitted based on a lack of evidence following a 21-month trial.

None of the 86 defendants in custody were present for the verdicts yesterday, while the other 52 are still at large and were tried in absentia.

The group was credited with 19 attacks nationwide in which several policemen were injured between the end of 2012 and late 2015.

These included attacks in Muharraq, Juffair, Sitra, Sehla, Adliya, Hamad Town, West Eker, Daih and Seef District.

Three of the defendants are described as leaders of the cell who allegedly received support from Iranian leaders and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

Those three were tried in absentia and were found guilty of forming and managing a terrorist cell, recruiting members, providing weapons training, ordering attacks on police and directing rioting and acts of sabotage.

Other defendants, aged between 16 and 55, were charged with carrying out bombings, attempting to kill policemen, placing hoax bombs in key areas, possessing Molotov cocktails, possessing and making explosives, possessing weapons and ammunition, arson, damaging public property and vehicles and taking part in illegal gatherings.

Almost a third were accused of receiving weapons and explosives training from the IRGC in Iran, as well as Hizbollah operatives in Iraq.

The group smuggled explosives into the country and stashed them in secret rooms in homes located in residential areas.

“The defendants were found guilty of the charges due to sufficient evidence presented by prosecutors,” stated the court ruling yesterday.

“They were part of the Dhu Al Faqqar Brigades, an Iranian-backed militia group in Bahrain.

“However, 23 of the defendants were found not guilty due to lack of evidence.

“All the defendants found guilty had their citizenships revoked.”

A policeman previously testified in court that one of the defendants, a weapons smuggler, was driving around with guns and explosives when he was arrested outside a Bahrain restaurant.

The 33-year-old had two pistols, two shotguns, explosive materials, ammunition and detonators in his vehicle when he was detained in Sanabis in December 2015.

He is said to have previously admitted the charges to prosecutors, explaining he was initially a member of the February 14 Coalition terrorist outfit, but later travelled to Iraq and also joined the outlawed Al Wafa Islamic Movement.

noorz@gdn.com.bh