A BAHRAIN court yesterday slashed the sentences of nine Bahrainis and cleared another convicted of charges connected to last year's unrest, including encouraging protesters to wield swords.
The men were also charged with inciting hatred in an attempt to overthrow the regime and change the political system, spreading lies and rumours, publishing photographs seeking to ruin Bahrain's image, illegal gathering and possession of swords during the unrest.
Four of them were earlier jailed for 10 years and six were given five-year sentences by the National Safety Court.
They then filed an appeal against their convictions at the Supreme Criminal Appeals Court, which reduced their sentences yesterday.
Those who received 10-year jail terms got their sentences slashed to five years, while the other five got their five-year terms reduced to between one month and 12 months.
The 10th man was acquitted upon appeal.
Judges also ordered confiscation of the weapons. Four other men implicated in the same case are still at large.
Those standing trial have connections with the Islamic Action Society (Amal), which was dissolved in August by a court for violating the Constitution and the law.
Relatives of the defendants earlier claimed in court that the men never incited violence, but delivered peaceful speeches.
An intelligence agent claimed an organised cell that took orders from an Iraqi clergyman in Iran was actively involved in provoking anti-government protesters to resort to violence last year.
He said Iraqi clergyman Sayed Hadi Ahmed Al Madrasi instructed Bahrainis to take up arms against the government and directed his supporters to use protests to further their cause.
Lawyers representing the defendants, who had their sentences slashed to five years, will lodge a final appeal at the Cassation Court, hoping to fully acquit their clients.
They are Ali Al Mahfoud, Jassim Al Dimistani, Sayed Mahdi Hadi, Talal Al Jamri.
Those who had their sentences slashed to 12 months are Yasser Ebrahim, Idris Al Ekri and Ali Mashallah, while Jaffer Hassan had his sentence reduced to six months and Mohammed Abdullah to a month. All five have been released as they completed their sentences. Nine others were earlier cleared of the charges.