Bahrain executes three men despite human rights pleas
Bahrain executed three men convicted in two separate cases on Saturday, despite pleas from international rights groups and UN human rights experts.
One of the cases involved the killing of a police officer and the other the killing of a mosque imam, the Bahraini public prosecutor said in a statement.
Two of the men, activists Ali al-Arab and Ahmed al-Malali, were sentenced to death in 2018 at a mass trial along with another 56 men who were given prison terms for "terrorism crimes".
The men were alleged to have been part of a terrorist cell trained in the use of heavy weapons and explosives. Nineteen members of the alleged cell were jailed for life and 37 were given sentences of up to 15 years.
The Bahraini public prosecutor said that the executed men had used an assault rifle to kill a police officer in 2017, at the instigation of Iran-based ringleaders.
International human rights groups including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and UN human rights experts had urged Bahrain to halt the executions, saying that their confessions were obtained under torture.
"While in custody the men were tortured by security officers including through electric shocks and beatings. Ali Mohamed al-Arab´s toenails were also ripped out," Amnesty said in a statement.
Mass trials became common in Bahrain following the country's 2011 'Arab Spring' uprising. Dozens of activists and politicians have been imprisoned since then, while others have fled abroad.
Bahrain has a Shia majority population but the ruling Al-Khalifa family is Sunni. The Bahraini government has accused Iran of stoking tensions in the kingdom.
A London-based Bahraini activist rights group, the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), said "the executions mark one of Bahrain´s darkest days".
"It appears that the Bahraini government planned this meticulously, timing the executions to coincide with US, EU and UK legislative recesses in order to avoid international scrutiny," BIRD’s Director Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei said in a statement sent to Reuters.
The third executed man was convicted for killing an imam in 2018. He was not named in the prosecutor’s statement.