MANAMA  - Bahrain’s highest appeals court on Monday upheld prison terms for 13 prominent activists on charges of plotting to overthrow the monarchy, lawyers said, in a verdict that sparked protests. Hours after the Court of Cassation’s ruling, hundreds gathered in the Shiite village of Malkiya in support of the prisoners, in response to calls for demonstrations by activists on social networking websites. The rulings were also condemned by the main Shiite opposition bloc Al-Wefaq, and human rights watchdog Amnesty International while France said it “regretted” the verdicts. “This unjust decision will confirm the view of many that the judiciary is more concerned about toeing the government’s line than upholding the rule of law and the rights of all Bahrainis,” said Amnesty’s Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui. “In order to maintain any credibility at all the Bahraini authorities must release these 13 people who have been imprisoned simply for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly,” she added in a statement. Seven of the activists have been jailed for life, including Abdulhadi Khawaja, who last year embarked on a hunger strike to protest his imprisonment, finally ending his fast in June after 110 days. Two others sentenced to life are Hassan Mashaima, head of the Shiite opposition Haq movement and Abduljalil al-Singace, a member of the same group. Protesters in Malkiya hoisted a large banner bearing the pictures of the 13 defendants and chanted: “We demand the release of all prisoners,” witnesses said. “The people want to overthrow the regime,” they shouted.