DUBAI - A Bahrain court sentenced 14 Shias to life in prison Wednesday over the death of a policeman in an anti-regime protest in the Gulf kingdom, a judicial source said.

The 14 were found guilty of "premeditated murder", possessing petrol bombs and explosives and taking part in an unauthorised demonstration near the capital Manama, the source added.

They were arrested during a protest on July 3 last year at Sitra, a Shia district. The policeman was killed when a device that had been placed in a barricade put up by protesters exploded, the source said.

Dozens of Bahraini Shias have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms after being convicted of involvement in violent anti-regime protests. The small Gulf state has been rocked since February 2011 by protests by the Shia majority against the Al-Khalifa dynasty that rules Bahrain.

Last year, the authorities stiffened penalties for people convicted of committing acts of violence, introducing the death penalty or life in jail for those found guilty in incidents where there were dead or wounded.­