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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 September 2018

Bahrain court upholds jail term for top Shiite cleric

The supreme court also confirmed the same verdict for two of the cleric's aides 

A supporter holds a portrait of Sheikh Ali Salman, head of the Shiite opposition movement Al-Wefaq, during a protest against his arrest,  in the village of Zinj on the outskirts of the capital Manama in 2016. Mohammed Al Shaikh / AFP
A supporter holds a portrait of Sheikh Ali Salman, head of the Shiite opposition movement Al-Wefaq, during a protest against his arrest, in the village of Zinj on the outskirts of the capital Manama in 2016. Mohammed Al Shaikh / AFP

Bahrain's supreme court on Monday upheld a one-year jail term for Shiite spiritual leader Isa Qassim and confirmed a decision to revoke the cleric's citizenship, a legal source said.

Qassim, 76, who last month underwent surgery, was convicted by a criminal court in May of illegal fundraising and money laundering.

Authorities accused him of abusing his position as a cleric to "serve foreign interests and promote... sectarianism and violence."

The supreme court, whose rulings are final, also confirmed the same verdict for two of the cleric's aides, Hussein Mahrus and Mirza al-Obaidli, the source said.

Qassim was being briefly hospitalised last month for blood pressure and diabetes-related treatments.

He has been under de facto house arrest at his residence in the village of Diraz, outside Manama, since his citizenship was revoked two years ago.

The cleric, revered by the Shiite community, was a leader of the 2011 protests in the Sunni-ruled kingdom.

Bahrain has been shaken by unrest since security forces crushed Shiite-led protests demanding a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister.

The strategic Gulf kingdom is a key regional ally of the United States and serves as home for its Fifth Fleet.

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