Cont’d from Front page Trial in Aden [Archives:1999/05/Law & Diplomacy]

February 1 1999

The next sitting of the court is scheduled for the 1st of February.
The case of the government against the accused seems to be strong. But because of transgression against the rights of the accused and inefficiency, it is expected to mismanage its own cards. Already, there is a rising international uproar against the alleged torture and refusal of the authorities to provide the lawyer of the accused the relevant documents.
As a result, the focus will shift from the crimes themselves to the shortcomings of the government in handling the case. That is why many individuals are already poised to intervene to strike a reconciliation.
One such effort is spearheaded by Mr. Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, leader of the Muslim Community in the UK.
He sent the following letter to Yemen Times.
On arrival in Aden, on Tuesday, 26 January, I made the following statement to the press.
  “We are glad to be in Yemen. Yemen is a country with a proud history and a long tradition of friendship and hospitality.
We bring goodwill and best wishes from the people of Britain to the government and people of Yemen.
“Ours is a mission of mercy. We are here to find out what is happening to six Britons held in Yemeni police cells. We believe that they are caught up in a web of misunderstanding and confusion – they being at the wrong place and the wrong time.”
We would like to cooperate with Yemeni and British officials. We ask that the relatives of those held (in prison) are allowed to spend regular time with their loved ones.
We believe we all have a common goal of fair-play and transparency of justice and our role is simply to facilitate this process.
Britain and Yemen have always maintained a cordial and amicable relationship. We would like to overcome any friction between us. We would like to see cordial relations re-established. We want to re-assure the government and people of Yemen that the Muslim Community in Britain has their well-being at heart and has their progress and prosperity in mind at all time and nothing else?
Earlier, in Sana’a, I gave a letter addressed to Dr. Iryani, Prime Minister of Yemen, through Mr. David Pearce of the British Embassy requesting an urgent meeting to work together to resolve the problem.
On Wednesday, 27th January, the trial started without Defence Lawyers being provided with the charge sheet, witness statements or list of evidence. Six boys were charged with possessing arms and explosives with the intention of causing damage to property and disturbing public tranquillity. However, the accused shouted that they were innocent and that confessions had been extracted under torture and hence are null and void. Physical signs of torture could be seen clearly on their first appearance in court.
Defence lawyers requested a two-week adjournment of the trial in order to have enough time to prepare for the case. They also requested an independent medical examination to verify claim of physical and psychological torture and abuse. Both requests were rejected.
Because of the seriousness of the charge involving fire-arms, it was also requested that forensic examination of the exhibits should be carried out.
Since then, despite various promises, all kinds of obstacles have been raised to prevent the meeting of the accused with their families and lawyers on a regular basis.
Dr. Christopher Milroy, an internationally known pathologist, who was a member of the UN team which investigated genocide and torture of Muslims in Bosnia, is now in Aden, ready to carry out an independent medical examination.
We want nothing but transparent justice for our boys and wish to re-assure everybody that we have nothing against the government and people of Yemen. We hope the matter will be resolved justly and amicably.
Ghayasuddin Siddiqui
Leader of the delegation of families, doctor & 
lawyers dealing with six Britons,
Leader of the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain.