Al-Fatemi: Please save my life [Archives:2006/942/Reportage]

May 1 2006

Mohammed Al-Jabri
[email protected]

In 1997, Dhamar governorate witnessed a terrifying murder in which two men were killed. Mohammed Hasan Al-Fatemi is accused of killing Abdulrab Hamoud, which Al-Fatemi denies. Below is the story of how the incident occurred, as narrated by his brother Shajei Al-Fatemi and some case documents.

Late in the afternoon, Mohammed Hasan Al-Fatemi went to his farm to do his usual work. There he met a few friends, including his cousin Ahmed. They all decided to sit under an acacia tree near the farm to enjoy the weather's tranquility.

Laying aside their arms and sitting on the comfortable, verdant ground, the friends talked to one another until a car suddenly appeared. It was 5 p.m. and silence dominated the scene. It turned out to be the car of Sheikh Ahmed Mohammed Al-Fatemi, accompanied by armed men.

The evil hour approached as Mohammed Hamoud and his brother Abdulrab got out of the car and immediately opened fire on Al-Fatemi. The two sides exchanged fire, resulting in a horrifying scene. Al-Fatemi was shot by four bullets in his chest and chin, while Mohammed Hamoud was injured slightly by one shot. Abdulrab was injured badly and Ahmed's father was killed by random fire, as he just observed the fighting.

Abdulrab died on his way to the hospital. His life could have been saved if the car that carried him had not broken down on the way to the hospital. Al-Fatemi was brought to Al-Thawra Hospital's intensive care department in Sana'a, undergoing several operations and remaining there more than a month.

Exploiting Al-Fatemi's hospital stay, Dhamar's public prosecutor managed to direct the case against him. Based on this, the case was referred to the Western Court headed by Judge Abdul Wasei Al-Mujahed, while Al-Fatemi, his father and his two brothers, Shajei and Ali, were sent to prison. They remained there a year, during which no one followed up their case.

Four witnesses testified about the crime in Al-Fatemi's absence. Al-Fatemi still maintains that he did not kill Abdulrab; rather, his own brother killed him. “I saw Mohammed Hamoud shoot Abdulrab while we were exchanging fire,” Al-Fatemi stated.

At this point, Al-Fatemi was engaged in another case with Judge Al-Mujahed. The Supreme Court asked Al-Mujahed to attend to looking into the case, but he refused. Instead, he sentenced Al-Fatemi to death, but the judgment was appealed.

The trial continued in the Appeals Court, with Judges Al-Shami and Al-Quhali canceling his death sentence and issuing another sentence stipulating that Al-Fatemi must pay blood money to Abdulrab's family. Upon learning this, the head of the Appeals Court concealed the new sentence, but the two judges sent a copy of it to the court's Penal Unit.

The Appeals Court Penal Unit approved the death sentence, which was sent to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court upheld the death sentence based on the witnesses' testimony.

On May 3, 2004, the attorney general sent the general case report to President Ali Abdullah Saleh to approve the death sentence. Two months later, Saleh approved the death sentence, in light of which the attorney general ordered the head of Appeals Prosecution to complete the procedures to fulfill the death penalty.

In December 2004, the four witnesses attended Western Court and confessed that their testimony was false. They were: Musleh Al-Okbi, Ali Ammari, Mohammed Asker and Fuad Al-Fatemi. Western Court Judge Abdullah Al-Jurmouzi issued official documents that their testimony was false and issued an order to stop fulfilling the death sentence.

The case then was referred to the Supreme Court and then the attorney general to look into the falsehood of the witnesses' testimony. The attorney general ordered the head of Public Prosecution to investigate the witnesses, but the death sentence again was approved without conducting a trial of the witnesses.

Al-Fatemi is a 27-year-old farmer, married with three sons and a daughter. He received basic education in Dhamar governorate's Bait Al-Fatemi village. He previously had some problems with Abdulrab's family over some village lands.

Letter of appeal

To: President Ali Abdullah Saleh

Amnesty International

The Ministry of Human Rights

Human Rights and Defending Freedoms organization (HOOD)

I am appealing to all of you to look into my case. I have been sentenced to death, although I am not guilty. I will be placed before the firing squad at any moment. I have lost hope in my case, so I now put my hope in you to save my life. I am sure I did not kill Abdulrab. I am oppressed, so please do not disappoint me.

The oppressed,

Mohammed Hasan Al-Fatemi