ABDUCTOR IN COURT [Archives:2001/51/Front Page]

December 17 2001

The Penal Court entrusted with trying defendants accused of kidnapping the German engineer Karl Lienert, held on Tuesday its first session to try in presence one of the four defendants, Ahmed Nasser Ahmed al-Zaidi. The other three defendants, Hassan Ahmed al-Zaidi, Mohammed Nasser al-Zaidi and Saleh Naji Tuaiman were tried in absentia. The four were accused of leading an armed gang for kidnapping foreigners, in addition to resisting security authorities and asking for a ransom amounting to more than YR 40 million. They were also charged of possessing unlicensed weapon and explosives. The first defendant was also charged with piercing an oil pipe-line in Marib 1994.
At the session, the main defendant confessed to all charges against him, including blasting the oil pipeline.
In response to a question on the timing of the incident which took place while President Saleh was visiting Germany, al-Zaidi denied any political motives for kidnapping the German engineer. He also confessed that his groups which stayed in a hotel in the capital had kidnapped a number of personalities that were later discovered to be Arabs, and who were then released.
The kidnapped German stayed in captivity for around 10 days after he was snatched from Baghdad street near the capitals center.
Sources revealed that the method in which the German engineer was freed was quite unique as government forces stormed into the hideout of the kidnappers in the afternoon hours of December 7 during their negotiations with tribal figures for the release of the hostage.
According to eye tribal sources, the rescue operation was not perfect, but eventually the job of rescuing the hostage was achieved. After the forces stormed the hideout, all the four kidnappers were able to make their way through out of the hideout and into the open where they could not be arrested despite intense efforts by the security forces that chased them for some time.
However, using a strategic tactic, the forces were evenly distributed around the area where the kidnappers ran to and were able to siege the areas in Dhana Valley south of Mareb. The forces stormed again and were able to capture Ahmed Nasser Al-Zaidi who was hiding the kidnapped German in one of the caves. Realizing that he was trapped, Ahmed Al-Zaidi surrendered in a time the hostage was extremely ill because of the conditions he was in and because of his thirst as he did not have any water for a long time.
This is the third case in which kidnappers are tried in court for abducting foreigners. Abulhassan Al-Mihdhar, the leader of the group that kidnapped a number of foreigners at the end of 1998 was sentenced to death and was prosecuted the following year after a reasonably short trial period. Another tribesmen, Faisal Bajjash Al-Shaif was sentences to a 20-year imprisonment term for kidnapping four Germans in Amran and taking them to Barat in the governorate of Saada.
Ahmed Nasser, the kidnapper currently tried is 36 years old and was known for his hobbies in inventions and engineering. He had reportedly invented a small helicopter without a pilot and was a talented man in plastic arts and carving but he was dragged into kidnapping, as his relatives say, for economic reasons.