Al-Badwi still rants against judgeCourt overturns death sentence [Archives:2005/820/Front Page]

February 28 2005

Mohammed Al-Qadhi
A Yemeni al-Qaeda member convicted to death for his involvement in the 2000 terrorist attack against the USS Cole, had his sentence reduced to 15 years in jail, while another's death sentence was upheld.

Sana'a Counter-Terrorism Appeals Court overturned the death sentence of Jamal al-Badwi, while it upheld death for Abdu al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who is being held in US custody and who is believed to be the mastermind of the USS Cole attack which killed 17 US sailors and injured 33 others.

Upon hearing his death sentence reduced to 15 years, al-Badwi, the convicts and their families broke into cries of “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest). But Badawi also lashed out at the judge, angrily denouncing him as an “agent” of the United States.

“This is an un-Islamic and illegal sentence,” al-Badawi shouted from inside the defendant's cage.

Also in court, the verdict against Mamoon Amswah was commuted from eight to five years. The other three convicts retained jail sentences ranging from five to 10 years.

Fahd al-Qis'e retained his 10-year sentence. The court earlier said that al-Qis'e had traveled to Afghanistan in 1997 to train at an al Qaeda terrorist camp.

Ali Mohamed Murakab and Morad al-Sorori both retained five years in prison for forging identification documents for Hasan al-Khameri under the name of Abdullah Ahmad Khaled al-Misawa, one of the suicide bombers.

The six men were all charged with belonging to al Qaeda and playing various roles in the attack on the Cole, which was carried out by suicide bombers Ibrahim al-Thawr, Hasan al-Khamiri, and a third unnamed person who rammed an explosives-laden boat into the destroyer.

Al-Thawr and al-Khameri traveled to Bangkok and received $36,000 from al-Nasheri for the terrorist operation. The court judge said it was clear to him that the convicted six militants were found guilty, setting up an armed gang to carry out terrorist acts, including the attack on the USS Cole.

During the final hearings last month, the court judge Saeed al-Kattaa listened to the argument made by the defendants advocate Abdulkaziz al-Samawi as well as the arguments of the prosecution, demanding intensification of some of the sentences.

Al-Samawi argued that the trial of the six defendants was not performed in accordance with the law. “I confirm that the trial was not carried out according to the law. These defendants were arrested for four years without any legal warrant or investigation, only two weeks before the trial started. The law says that imprisoning people for over 24 hours without interrogation is something illegal,” he argued.

He demanded that his clients should be acquitted and compensated for the material, moral and psychological damage caused to them, and that they should not be convicted “just to please the US.”

He said the defendants were presented as a “scapegoat.”

He reiterated that his clients were subject to physical torture and psychological pressure.” The preliminary court verdict was based on confessions made by the defendants under threat and pressure; they were even interrogated without any advocacy,” he claimed during the last hearing.

He refuted the preliminary court verdicts which he claimed and were passed to “please the US.” On his part, the second prime suspect Jamal al-Badwi claimed that he and his fellow people will be acquitted if “the verdict is issued in accordance with the law, but we will be convicted if the verdict is passed to satisfy the Americans.”

The prosecutor reiterated that the appeal made by the defendants advocate should be rejected and that the defendant Fahd al-Qis'e should be sentenced to death as well as intensifying the jail sentence against Morad al-Sorori and Mamoon Amswah, while the death penalty sentence against al-Nashiri and al-Badwi should be endorsed.

Before Saturday's overturning of al-Badwi's death sentence, the court had sentenced, on September 28th, al-Nashiri, the suspect held in US custody and al-Badawi, to death for orchestrating, plotting, preparing and involvement in the bombing of the US warship.

The appeals court also sentenced to death, on Feb. 5th, two al-Qaeda, and jailed 13 more, accused of bombing the French oil tanker Limburg , plotting to blow up five Western embassies and plotting to assassinate the US ambassador and planning other attacks terrorist operations in the country.

By these verdicts, the Yemeni government has tried to close one of the most challenging terrorist cases on file, though political observers believe that as long as al-Nashiri remains in the US custody without tribunal, the USS Cole file remains open.

Sources say that the Sana'a Counter-Terrorism court will start this week trying 13 people suspected of links to Al Qaeda and accused of plotting terrorist attacks.

Meanwhile the same court will continue on Monday the tribunal of 11 of others: 11 Al-Qaeda suspects accused of planning to form an armed gang to carry out “criminal acts” in Yemen and abroad, as well as trying to join militants battling U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.