Syrian human rights activist, Dr. Kamal al-Labwani, was sentenced on 10 May to life imprisonment. Regime president, Bashar Al Assad, immediately and "graciously" commuted it to 12 years.
Some analysts view this extraordinarly long sentence as an attempt to frustrate and silence peaceful opposition and a statement of defiance against the soon-to-be-convened international tribunal on the assasination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri. Assad and his close associates have been implicated by UN investigators in this and other murders of prominent Lebanese politicians in recent years.
The full press release of Human Rights Watch is here