MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — The head of Bahrain's main opposition group was charged Sunday with insulting authorities through an exhibition that showed alleged abuses against anti-government protesters, a lawyer said, in a move that could sharply raise tensions in the violence-wracked Gulf nation.
The charges against Ali Salman, the head of the Shiite bloc Al Wefaq, came just hours after a court sentenced four suspects to life in prison for alleged ties to Shiite militant factions and acting as spies for Iran. Bahrain accuses Iran of aiding the 32-month uprising by the kingdom's majority Shiites against the ruling Sunni dynasty.
Iran denies the accusations and no firm evidence has been produced. But the claims by Bahrain's Western-backed leading have been echoed by other Gulf Arab nations that fear Iran seeks to destabilize their networks of ruling clans.
More than 65 people have been killed in Bahrain's Arab Spring-inspired protests seeking a greater political voice for Shiites on the strategic island nation, which is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet. Some rights groups place the overall death toll higher.
It's unclear whether Salman will face trial, which could touch off wider clashes. Prosecutors have the option of not bringing the case to court.
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