Court upholds death penalty for pair convicted of killing policemen

A COURT in Bahrain has upheld death sentences for two people convicted of killing policemen during anti-government demonstrations in March. But two other defendants who had been given the death penalty had their sentences reduced to life in prison, according to the Gulf island nation's state news agency.

The case is part of a series of closed-door trials that have been criticised by rights groups and others opposed to the wide-ranging emergency laws used to quell demonstrations.

The appeals, like the trial before it, were heard in a special security court presided over by military and civilian judges. It was set up under emergency laws implemented during a government crackdown on the majority Shiite-led protests against the Sunni monarchy.

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The security court is separately trying 21 opposition leaders and political activists, most of them Shiites, accused of plotting against the state. A Shiite cleric and eight others were jailed last week for 20 years for the alleged kidnapping of a police officer.