Sheikh Ali Salman undermines court decision to reduce prison sentence

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - The Secretary General of Bahrain's al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, Sheikh Ali Salman, undermined a court decision to reduce his prison sentence, saying that he considers freedom and democracy for Bahrain as a real breakthrough, local reports said.

The Secretary General of al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, Sheikh Ali Salman, undermined this step, saying that "the greatest breakthrough would be to achieve freedom and democracy for Bahrain", Bahrain Mirror reported.

Sheikh Ali Salman made the comments after the Court of Cassation's in Bahrain announced that prison sentence for the senior opposition figure has reduced from 9 years to 4 years.

Sheikh Salman reiterated his rejection to charges posed against him, in a phone call with his family.

Meanwhile, the King of Bahrain ratified a constitutional amendment that paves the way for military trials of civilians, in yet another example of Bahrain's efforts to dismantle access to justice and fair trial, said Amnesty International on its website.

"This constitutional amendment is a disaster for the future of fair trials and justice in Bahrain. It is part of a broader pattern where the government uses the courts to crackdown on all forms of opposition at the expense of human rights," said Lynn Maalouf, head of research at Amnesty International's regional office in Beirut.

"Instead of moving to correct its shameful history of unfair trials and impunity for violations, authorities in Bahrain have decided to further undermine faith in the independence and fairness of the courts and of the justice system as a whole," she went on to say.

"Trials before military courts violate fundamental requirements of international law and standards for fair trial, as recognized by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Bahrain is a State Party," said Lynn Maalouf.

"To avoid a lurch backwards to the dark days of martial law, the amendment should be repealed. And the Bahraini authorities must undertake a serious reform of their laws and of the justice system, in line with their obligations under international law," she also added.

Amnesty International had previously issued a public statement urging the King of Bahrain not to ratify the proposed amendments to the constitution and to abide by international standards on fair trial.

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