MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — A Bahrain court Tuesday upheld jail sentences against 20 opposition figures convicted of plotting to overthrow the Western-allied government, including eight prominent activists facing life in prison.

The decision is likely to deepen the nearly 19-month-long crisis between Bahrain’s Sunni rulers and Shiite-led protesters demanding a greater political voice in the strategic Gulf kingdom, which is home to the U.S. Navy‘s 5th Fleet.

The group on trial includes some of the most high-profile leaders. Among the eight sentenced to life is rights activistAbdulhadi al-Khawaja, who staged a 110-day hunger strike earlier this year in protest. The other 12 have lesser prison terms, ranging from five to 15 years, with seven of them convicted in absentia.

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.