WASHINGTON — The United States said Tuesday it was “deeply troubled” after a Bahrain appeals court upheld jail terms against 13 leading activists over charges of plotting to overthrow the Gulf monarchy.
The US urged Bahrain “to abide by its commitment to respect detainees’ right to due process and to transparent judicial proceedings, including fair trials and access to attorneys,” State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said.
“It is important that verdicts are based on credible evidence and that judicial proceedings are conducted in full accordance with Bahraini law and Bahrain’s international legal obligations,” Ventrell said in a statement.
“We call on the government of Bahrain to investigate all reports of torture, including those made by the defendants, as it has pledged to do, and to hold accountable those found responsible.”
The opposition swiftly condemned the “vindictive” rulings against the activists, seven of whom are facing life in prison, and accused the court of staging “mock trials.”
The defendants — who played leading roles in month-long protests last year demanding democratic reforms — did not turn up in the appeals court, the lawyers said.
The 13 activists were being retried in a civil court after they were convicted by a special semi-military court, along with seven others who remain at large, of plotting to topple the Sunni ruling family.
Another defendant was acquitted.
“We continue to call on all parties, including the government, to contribute constructively to reconciliation, meaningful dialogue and reform that bring about change that is responsive to the aspirations of all Bahrainis,” Ventrell said.
“Bahrain needs dialogue and negotiation to build a strong national consensus about its political future, strengthen its economic standing, and make it a more prosperous country and a more stable ally of the United States.”