4 Sep 2012

Bahrain court rejects pro-democracy activists' appeal

10:23 pm on 4 September 2012

A court in Bahrain has upheld lengthy prison sentences imposed on leaders of pro-democracy protests held in 2011.

The 20 people were originally tried before a military court last year, accused of plotting to overthrow the government. The verdicts included eight life sentences.

Those convicted included some of Bahrain's most prominent human rights activists, the BBC reports.

During the original court hearing, they insisted that theirs had been a peaceful movement of protest.

After widespread international criticism of the original procedure, they were tried again in a civilian court and the ruling was released on Tuesday.

Their lawyers have said they may appeal against the latest rulings.

Bahrain has been wracked by unrest since demonstrators occupied a prominent landmark in Manama, Pearl Roundabout, in February 2011, demanding more democracy and an end to discrimination against the majority Shia Muslim community by the Sunni royal family.

At least 60 people, including several police officers, have been killed, hundreds have been injured and thousands jailed.