PHOTO: Protesters denounce the prison sentence of opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman, June 2015

Maintaining its repression of dissent, Bahrain’s regime has extended the prison sentence of an opposition leader from four to nine years.

An appeals court increased the punishment of Sheikh Ali Salman, the head of the Al-Wefaq party, on charges of inciting violence.

Bahrain’s public prosecutor said on Monday that the extension was because of “crimes of promoting change to the political system by force”.

Salman was arrested in December 2014 and originally sentenced last summer. Defense lawyers appealed in September, saying that excerpts of his speeches were taken out of context to be presented as “evidence” of his guilt. Prosecutors responded with their own appeal for a longer prison term.

The Bahraini monarchy has tried to suppress any opposition following mass protests for rights and reforms in February 2011. More than 80 people were killed by security forces, the country’s most prominent monument was destroyed, villages were cut off, and residents tear-gassed, and mass detentions were carried out.

Among those serving long prison sentences are Abduhadi al-Khawaja, the founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, who is detained for life. His daughter Zainab is serving a three-year term, despite having a one-year-old child.