A military court in Bahrain has imposed the death sentence of four Shia Muslim protesters who were implicated in the deaths of two police officers during anti-government demonstrations last month, according to state-controlled media.
According to a Shia opposition official, the four condemned men are named Ali Abdullah Hasan, Qasim Hassan Mattar, Saeed Abdul Jalil Saeed, and Abdul Aziz Abdullah Ibrahim.
Three other defendants – identified by Agence France Presse as Issa Abdullah Kazem, Sadiq Ali Mahdi, and Hussein Jaafar Abdul Karim -- were handed life terms.
The verdicts are the first to arise from the largely Shia revolt against the Sunni ruling elite of this tiny kingdom. Government officials said that a total of four policemen were killed during the protests of February and March.
The Bahraini opposition is outraged by the ruling, which occurred behind closed doors.
Sheikh Ali Salman, president of Al Wefaq, the largest Shia political party, told Al Jazeera: I believe that these sentences should be revised and the international community must intervene to stop this,” adding that the court proceedings were unprecedented.”
Rights groups allege the defendants had no contact with family or friends and little access to legal advice.
Bahrain has been under martial law since mid-March; the rule is being enforced by thousands of troops imported from Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-dominated Arab countries. Hundreds of opposition figures have been arrested by state security, and several have died in custody under suspicious circumstances.
The brutal crackdown has been widely condemned by international authorities and human rights activists.
Bahrain has accused Iran (a Shia power in the region) of fomenting unrest in the kingdom.
On Wednesday, a government official said 405 detainees were referred to military courts while 312 have been released.
Sixty-two criminal cases and 343 misdemeanor cases have been referred to the courts of national safety, said Sheikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa, the head of the Information Affairs Authority.