Accusation of daughter questionable:Who murdered al-Zaghir? [Archives:2005/831/Local News]

April 7 2005

Mohammed bin Sallam
The Capital Secretariat's Western Court is still examining the murder of Yemeni businessman Mohammed Salem al-Zaghir, owner of the largest opposition and private sector's printing press, and his Egyptian wife Nawal late last year.

The security services have so far been ineffective in determining the real perpetrators.

The 18-year-old daughter of the victims was arrested as the murderer after she was threatened, beaten and forced into signing false statements.

The Capital Southwestern Court, headed by Judge Nabil Jaghman, held its second session on March 29, to look into the case in the presence of a large crowd.

In the previous session the lawyer that was appointed by the deceased's brother asked that the judge be changed so that the case may be settled quickly. Consequently, judge Jaghman ruled that son of the deceased to be the judicial custodian of the deceased's properties.

Negating the previous request of the uncle Mr. Marwan, brother of the deceased to be so.

The Court made a number of judgments including cancelling the authorization of the deceased's brother, Marwan Salem al-Zaghir, as legal custodian, appointing instead the son of the deceased Bassam.

The Court also ordered Basmah Mohammed Salem al-Zaghir, the daughter accused of the murders, to be medically tested to refute the Prosecution's claim that she is a drug addict.

The case has been adjourned it until April 12, 2005.

Legal sources, linked to the case, told the Yemen Times during the last session the Prosecution claimed that the daughter had admitted to the crime, but that she had signed a statement after being subject to beating, humiliation, and threats by the investigators, without any lawyers present.

At the previous session, the jury heard the statements of two Ethiopian women, which the defense lawyer, al-Abiyadh, protested against on the basis that they were Christians, and the testimony of a Christian against a Muslim is unacceptable especially in murder cases.

This led to the withdrawal of lawyers al-Abiyadh and al-Yosufi from the session and the cancellation of the first witness as she had been instructed how to testify.

In another twist, the grandfather of the accused girl, a Denmark-based Yemeni businessman, and her uncle, a lawyer Abdulaziz al-Samawi, have asked for her immediate execution prior to the completion of the trial and before guilt is established.

This is against the constitution of the European Union, which includes Denmark.

Sources close to the al-Zaghir family reported that the son, Bassam, was beaten and threatened with fire arms by his uncle who vowed to move him to Aden despite the fact that his school is located in Sanaa.

Meanwhile, female lawyer Shatha Mohammed Nasser said that contacts are being made with the European Union and the Kingdom of Denmark via an Italian Human Rights Organization to discuss this matter.