Bahrain has jailed and fined 57 Shi’ites for allegedly plotting bomb attacks across the country, state news outlet Bahrain News Agency said in a statement.
The court sentenced five people to life imprisonment, 22 others to 15 years in jail and 29 to serve a term between three to 10 years.
The country also fined the accused amounts ranging between BD 500 to BD 10,000 and revoked the citizenship of all except one.
Bahrain said that it charged one of the defendants for setting up a group to conduct illegal acts such as “attacking policemen, targeting vital sites and security locations, including an embassy, sparking chaos and fomenting seditions.”
Meanwhile other defendants were charged with joining the alleged terrorist group, “receiving money, firearms, ammunitions and explosives with the intent of carrying out terror acts”.
They were also accused of getting trained by foreigners to carry out terror acts and for helping other suspects to leave the country illegally, BNA said.
The state news agency did not elaborate on the details of the trial but local newspaper Gulf Daily News reported that the group had planned to blow up the Saudi embassy in Bahrain and the King Fahd Causeway, which links Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
Bahrain is the only Gulf country that is home to a large Shi’ite community but is ruled by a Sunni government. The relationship between the majority Shias and minority Sunnis has been strained for many years.
In 2011, the country saw large-scale protests from Shi’ites who demanded to have more rights as a community.
Fearing that the GCC’s regional rival Iran could take advantage of the unrest in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia’s military troops entered Bahrain soon after to quell protests.
Following that, protests in the kingdom have been largely sporadic but have created feelings of animosity among Shi’ites towards Saudi Arabia, say experts.