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Bahrain Sentences Eight Shi'ite Activists To Life

The activists have been found guilty of plotting a coup during antigovernment protests earlier this year.
A special court in Bahrain has sentenced to life in prison eight Shi'ite activists on charges of plotting a coup during protests earlier this year.

A total of 21 suspects were on trial, 14 in custody and the rest in absentia.

The National Safety Court jailed 13 others for up to 15 years.

Several prominent Shi'ite dissident political leaders were among those sentenced on June 21.

Bahrain's authorities in March crushed weeks of protests demanding greater rights for the Shi'ite majority in the Sunni-ruled kingdom.

Authorities claim the defendants sought to overthrow the Sunni monarchy and have links to a "terrorist organization abroad."

The government says Lebanon's Iran-backed Hizballah movement had a role in the protests, which started in February.

Bahrain, which is home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, invited troops from Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf neighbors to help crush the pro-democracy protests.

compiled from agency reports