[JURIST] A Bahraini [BBC backgrounder] court on Sunday sentenced eight activists to life in prison for killing a policeman and participating in anti-regime protests in August. The eight pro-democracy protesters said [PressTV report] that they confessed while being tortured. Harsh sentences for activists have become a trend in Bahrain. Since 2011 thousands of pro-democracy demonstrations have been held in the streets of Bahrain concerning the Al Khalifa family [official profile] relinquishing their power over the state. Shortly after the protests began, troops from Saudi Arabia came to Bahrain to assist the regime in its control over peaceful assemblies.
The anti-government protests in early 2011 have spurred numerous legal proceedings in Bahrain. In March a Bahraini court sentenced [JURIST report] 13 Bahrain citizens to life in prison and one man to 10 years in prison for attempting to kill a police officer and participating in an illegal protest. Also in March, Bahrain's Fourth High Criminal Court convicted 11 defendants [JURIST report] of possessing weapons, ammunition and explosives and of manufacturing bombs for terror purposes, meting out 15-year prison sentences and significant fines. In November Bahraini authorities arrested and charged [JURIST report] two former Guantanamo Bay detainees for plotting an attack in Bahrain. In October a Bahrain appellate court reduced the prison sentences [JURIST report] of two police officers convicted of torturing and murdering a detainee after opposition protests in March 2011. In September Mohamed al-Maskati, head of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, reported that a Bahrain court sentenced 50 defendants [JURIST report] to prison terms ranging between five and 15 years in prison, with 20 of the defendants sentenced in absentia.