Bahrain unrest: Eight Shia activists sentenced to life

Bahrain has sentenced eight Shia pro-democracy activists to life in jail for "plotting to overthrow the government", the state news agency says.

They were among 21 opposition figures tried by a special security court. Others got sentences of up to 15 years.

Ahead of the verdict, their supporters blocked roads and staged rallies.

Bahrain's mainly Shia protesters have been calling for democratic reforms and more rights for the country's Shia majority in the Sunni-ruled kingdom.

They have long complained of systematic discrimination, and point to high unemployment, poor housing and the fact that they are denied high-level positions in government departments.

A wave of peaceful protests swept the country in February and March, but they were put down by force by the government, which called in troops from neighbouring Gulf states. Emergency law was only lifted on 1 June.

Correspondents say the sentencing threatens to re-ignite simmering tensions in the tiny Gulf state.

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