Court acquits 19 terror suspects due to inadequate evidence [Archives:2006/962/Front Page]

July 10 2006

SANA'A, July 9 ) During its Saturday session, the State Security Specialized Penal Court acquitted 19 suspects accused of plotting to hit Western interests in Yemen, including five Saudis known as Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi's cell.

The court adjourned the case at its May 22 hearing due to inadequate evidence. Meanwhile, Prosecution charged the 19 with plotting against the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in retaliation for the 2002 killing of an Al-Qaeda member by an unmanned fighter plane.

According to Prosecution, the suspects traveled to Iraq and returned to Yemen to implement their plots after receiving directives from Al-Zarqawi, Al-Qaeda's first-in-command in Iraq, who was killed in an air strike a month ago.

The court ruled in favor of the defense, clearing the suspects of any charges attributed to them due to inadequate testimony against them. The suspects' acquittal was contained in the court's preliminary ruling.

Judge Mohamed Al-Ba'adani said the court hadn't received enough evidence to convict the suspects. Announcing the ruling, Al-Ba'adani explained, “After confiscating seized articles previously in the suspects' possession, we've not found enough evidence to sentence them as the authorities claimed.”

Upon hearing the verdict, the 19 suspects shouted loudly, “Allah is the greatest! Allah is the greatest!” while the Saudi suspects' relatives, who've attended the trial since the beginning, urged the court to issue the final acquittal.

“The verdict contains enough testimony against the suspects,” Deputy Attorney General Khalid Al-Mawiri said in response. He demanded the case be referred to the Penal Appeals Court, which he said is the party concerned with such cases.

The State Security Specialized Penal Court began trying the original 17 suspects February 22, adding Jalal Al-Qadas and Aqil Al-Kuhali to the list of defendants a few weeks ago.

Yemen joined the U.S.-led war on terrorism following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S., hunting those connected to Al-Qaeda, including bombers of the USS Cole in 2000 and the French supertanker Limburg in 2002.