Nine men were awarded a 20 years imprisonment by a Bahraini military court for kidnapping a policeman during the Gulf kingdom's anti government protests in March, the wall street Journal cited a Bahrain news agency reporting.

In a special security court set up under martial law, one military and two civilian judges awarded the sentence to the convicted.

The policeman was kidnapped on his way to work, he was taken in a car and paraded around Pearl roundabout and then they took him to Salmanyah Hospital where he was held hostage said a government spokesman, when asked about the incidence.

Prominent Shiite activist and cleric Habeeb Al Asffaf is one of the nine convicted who was pardoned for being a part of the terrorist cell late in February this year.

Thursday's move by the government seemed to show the Al Khalifa ruling family was sending a tough message to the opposition ahead the emergency law's end on June 1st, say some analysts.

What this suggests is that there is no room for dissent in the new Bahrain, said Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Center in Doha. I think they are trying to get all of this done before the lifting of emergency law and they want to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Shiite opposition that any threat to the regime won't be tolerated reported the WSJ.

A day after the after three former editors of Al Wasat, Bahrain's main opposition newspaper pleaded not guilty to charges of unethical coverage, came this verdict.

Four men were sent to death sentence last month for killing two policemen. Nearly 50 doctors and nurses are being tried for treating anti-government protestors.

Despite the announcement of lifting [the state of] national safety there is no change in the attitude to the people, said Khalil Almarzooq, a senior Al Wefaq member. Lifting the national safety does not mean the checkpoints [around Bahrain's capital Manama] will be removed and the [military] tribunals will stop.