Bahrain court confirms doctors' jail terms

Bahrain's highest court yesterday confirmed the prison sentences given to nine doctors and nurses for their role in last year's pro-democracy uprising, a decision that could fuel further unrest in the Gulf state.

The controversial case has drawn international criticism of the US-allied kingdom, which has been in turmoil since the protests led by its Shia Muslim majority were crushed by the Sunni rulers.

The state news agency BNA quoted the Attorney General, Abdul-Rahman al-Sayed, as saying that Bahrain's Court of Cassation rejected all appeals presented by the defendants and confirmed the previous rulings of prison terms ranging between one month to five years.

In June, the appeals court sentenced Ali al-Ekry, a former senior surgeon, to five years in jail and gave eight others prison sentences ranging from one month to three years. It acquitted nine others.

The doctors and nurses, who are all Shias, say they were victimised for treating protesters and helping bring world attention to deaths caused by security forces.