Tehran Dismisses Bahrain Regime Anti-Iran Claims

Tehran Dismisses Bahrain Regime Anti-Iran Claims

TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Iran strongly denied claims by a Bahraini court that ten people it sentenced to long prison terms on charges of plotting to attack people had links to the Islamic republic.

Instead of accusing Iran, the Bahraini government had better meet its people’s demands through negotiations, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham said on Wednesday.

Afkham emphasized that the crisis in the Persian Gulf kingdom needs a Bahraini solution, stressing the need for Manama to take confidence-building measures in a bid to pave the way for a serious national dialogue.

This comes after a Bahraini court sentenced protesters to life and six others to 15 years in jail on charges of setting up a militant cell linked to Iran's aimed at assassinating public figures in the small Persian Gulf country.

The defendants were part of a group of 24 on trial, 14 of whom were acquitted. Two of those sentenced to life were tried in absentia, according to the state news agency BNA.

The trials come as Bahraini courts continue to slap pro-democracy activists with long jail terms over their participation in anti-regime protests.

The Persian Gulf island state, which is a US ally and home to its Fifth Fleet, has been in turmoil since pro-democracy protests erupted in mid-February 2011.

Human rights organizations have also accused the West of turning a blind eye to the crackdown, because it considers Bahrain as strategically important, providing a haven for the US Navy's Fifth Fleet in the Gulf.

Bahrain has seen 80 people killed since the protests erupted, according to the International Federation for Human Rights. Hundreds more have been arrested and languish in prison.

Saudi Arabia, whose forces helped the Al Khalifa regime in its bloody repression of the popular uprising in 2011 and still has a military presence there, is much resented by the Bahraini people.

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