Bahrain executed two Shiite citizens by firing squad Saturday on terror charges, officials said, despite appeals for clemency from international human rights groups.
The prosecutor announced the first such executions in the Gulf kingdom for more than two years but did not identify the pair.
The two — named by rights groups as Ali al-Arab, 25, and Ahmad al-Malali, 24 — were both Shiites, judicial sources said, without confirming the names. The convicts were put to death along with a third death row prisoner found guilty of murder.
Their families had been called to the prison on Friday for a final visit, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said. The small Gulf state, a key US ally located between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran, has been gripped by bouts of unrest since 2011, when authorities cracked down on Shiite-led protests demanding political reform.
The two Shiites executed Friday were arrested separately in February 2017 and sentenced to death in January last year after a mass trial with 58 other defendants that was marred by allegations of torture. The pair were convicted of “forming a terror group” which went on to carry out a series of armed attacks in the kingdom.
They included the storming of the kingdom’s Jaw prison in January 2017 that killed a guard and led to the escape of 10 detainees, the prosecutor said. That attack was followed by two separate fatal attacks on police officers later the same month, the prosecutor added.
In an 11th hour appeal for clemency, HRW’s acting Middle East director Lama Fakih warned that King Hamad was committing a “grave injustice by ratifying the death sentences of the two men despite the allegations of torture and other serious due process concerns”.
On the eve of the executions, Amnesty International’s Middle East research director Lynn Maalouf said: “If the Bahraini authorities go through with these executions it would be an utterly shameful show of contempt for human rights.”