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Bahrain Sentences 8 Shi'ite Activists to Life in Prison

Hassan Mushaima, a Bahraini rights activist and a prominent Shi'ite opposition leader, wears a mask against tear gas as he is greeted by an anti-government demonstrator at Pearl roundabout in Manama, Bahrain, March 13, 2011

A special court in Bahrain has sentenced eight Shi'ite activists to life in prison on charges of plotting to overthrow the government following opposition protests earlier this year.

A total of 21 people were on trial, and the sentences handed down Wednesday include a life term for prominent Shi'ite political leader Hassan Mushaima, and a five-year sentence for pro-reform figure Ibrahim Sharif.

The Sunni-ruled nation has arrested hundreds of mostly Shi'ite protesters and put dozens on trial in the special courts. International rights groups have criticized the trials as being politically motivated.

Bahrain's crackdown on the anti-government protesters in March left 24 people dead.

Bahrain has insisted is it open to dialogue and has denied reports of human rights abuses.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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