World

Bahrain Shiite opposition leader who faced potential life sentence gets 4 years instead

  • A Bahraini Shiite Muslim cleric holds a picture of Sheikh Ali Salman during a protest in Manama, Bahrain, Tuesday, June 16, 2015. A court in the Gulf Arab nation of Bahrain sentenced Salman, the country's leading Shiite opposition figure, to four years in prison Tuesday. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

    A Bahraini Shiite Muslim cleric holds a picture of Sheikh Ali Salman during a protest in Manama, Bahrain, Tuesday, June 16, 2015. A court in the Gulf Arab nation of Bahrain sentenced Salman, the country's leading Shiite opposition figure, to four years in prison Tuesday. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)  (The Associated Press)

  • A man holding prayer beads chants anti-government slogans against the conviction of Shiite cleric Sheikh Ali Salman, seen on signs, over insult charges, during a protest in Manama, Bahrain, Tuesday, June 16, 2015. A court in the Gulf Arab nation of Bahrain sentenced Salman, the country's leading Shiite opposition figure, to four years in prison Tuesday. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

    A man holding prayer beads chants anti-government slogans against the conviction of Shiite cleric Sheikh Ali Salman, seen on signs, over insult charges, during a protest in Manama, Bahrain, Tuesday, June 16, 2015. A court in the Gulf Arab nation of Bahrain sentenced Salman, the country's leading Shiite opposition figure, to four years in prison Tuesday. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)  (The Associated Press)

  • A small group of Bahraini women carry national flags and a banner showing jailed Shiite cleric Sheikh Ali Salman during a protest against his conviction of insulting the Interior Minister as they march in Manama, Bahrain, Tuesday, June 16, 2015. A court in the Gulf Arab nation of Bahrain sentenced Salman, the country's leading Shiite opposition figure, to four years in prison Tuesday. The banner reads: "We reject the unjust trial. Freedom to Sheikh Ali Salman and all the prisoners." (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

    A small group of Bahraini women carry national flags and a banner showing jailed Shiite cleric Sheikh Ali Salman during a protest against his conviction of insulting the Interior Minister as they march in Manama, Bahrain, Tuesday, June 16, 2015. A court in the Gulf Arab nation of Bahrain sentenced Salman, the country's leading Shiite opposition figure, to four years in prison Tuesday. The banner reads: "We reject the unjust trial. Freedom to Sheikh Ali Salman and all the prisoners." (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)  (The Associated Press)

A court in the Gulf Arab nation of Bahrain has sentenced the country's leading Shiite opposition figure to four years in prison after he was convicted of insulting the Interior Ministry, which oversees police, inciting others to break the law and inciting hatred against naturalized Sunni citizens.

However, the higher criminal court found Sheikh Ali Salman, who is the secretary general of the al-Wefaq political opposition group, not guilty of a fourth charge of inciting a change of government by force, which carried a potential life sentence.

The charges against Salman stem from speeches he made between 2012 and 2014. His arrest in December sparked clashes between protesters and police.

His defense lawyer, Abdullah al-Shamlawi says that Salman, 59, can appeal Tuesday's verdict.