Bahraini man sentenced to death over policeman killing

MANAMA Wed Feb 19, 2014 7:33am EST

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MANAMA (Reuters) - A court in Bahrain has sentenced one man to death and six others to life imprisonment for the killing of a policeman after a protest last year marking the kingdom's abortive 2011 pro-democracy uprising, local media reported on Wednesday.

Two other defendants were given sentences of five and six years in jail for their role in what state-run media have called a "terrorist attack ... using an incendiary projectile" on the policeman named Mohammed Aasef.

The attack last year followed clashes between security forces and demonstrators on the second anniversary of the 2011 uprising by mostly majority Shi'ite Muslims demanding democratic reforms in the Sunni-ruled kingdom, a key U.S. regional ally.

In those clashes, security forces killed a teenager and injured dozens more protesters, an opposition website said. Security forces confirmed they had fired warning shots at the crowds and one young man had been killed.

At the uprising's third anniversary last week, a policeman died from his injuries in a bomb explosion a day before tens of thousands of Bahrainis held a peaceful march to mark the uprising inspired by Arab protests elsewhere.

Bahrain crushed the demonstrations that began on February 14, 2011 amid the protest wave sweeping other Arab countries, but it has yet to resolve the conflict between majority Shi'ites and the Sunni-led monarchy they accuse of oppressing them.

The ruling family has launched bilateral talks with opposition groups after national reconciliation meetings ended with no agreement.

The Bahraini authorities, along with their backers in Saudi Arabia, accuse Iran of fomenting unrest in the island kingdom. Their handling of the unrest has embarrassed the United States, which has had to balance its support for an ally that hosts its Fifth Fleet against human rights concerns.

(Reporting by Farishta Saeed, Writing by Yara Bayoumy; editing by Sami Aboudi and Tom Heneghan)

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