Bahrain's emir has commuted the death sentences of three Shiites convicted of a 1996 arson attack on a restaurant in which seven Bangladeshis were killed, newspapers reported on Tuesday.
The Gulf Daily News said the sentences against Ali Ahmad Abdullah al-Asfour, an agriculture ministry employee, teacher Yussef Hussein Abdul Baqi and labourer Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim al-Katab, all in their mid-30s, were commuted to life prison terms.
Sheikh Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa, the emir, issued the decree late Monday ahead of the holidays which follow the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
Apart from the three men sentenced to death, a state security court also jailed four others for life and an eighth Shiite Muslim was given a 15-year prison term for the March 14, 1996 attack on a Manama restaurant used by Asian workers.
The mainly Shiite opposition has long campaigned for parliament to be restored, sparking violence that cost at least 38 lives between 1994 and 1999. The unrest has eased since last year, when Sheikh Hamad took over after his father's death.
On December 19, Bahrain announced democratic reforms to restore an elected parliament and to turn the emirate into a kingdom. A national charter on the reforms is expected to go to a referendum in February or March -- MANAMA (AFP)
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