Court heedless to suspect’s transport permit [Archives:2004/770/Front Page]

September 6 2004

Mohammed Al-Qadhi
The Yemeni Prosecution in the tribunal of the USS Cole bombing suspects' refuted the document presented by the defense lawyer which allegedly facilitated the task of the prime suspect. Chief prosecutor, Saeed al-Akil, who has been acting like a dictator in the courtroom, said in the ninth hearing last Wednesday, that the document presented by advocate Abdulaziz al-Samawi is false, demanding the original copy of the license.
Al-Samawi read in the last hearing an official letter issued and signed by former interior minister Hussesin Arab, which instructed the security authorities at all checkouts to give “safe passage to Sheikh Mohammed Omar Al-Harazi (one of the aliases of the prime suspect Abdulraheem al-Nasheri) with three bodyguards without being searched or intercepted. All security forces are instructed to cooperate with him and facilitate his missions.” The order was valid from April 2000 until the end of the year in which the USS Cole was attacked, in the port of Aden.
Al-Samawi said that the original copy of the transport permit is with al-Nasheri who he said, had the evidence but is in US custody. The Specialized Penal Court and the prosecution said earlier that they have no official information that he is in the US, and therefore he is being tried in absentia. However, al-Samawi asked the court for the testimony of the representative of the US Department of Justice, who was attending the tribunal on this issue. He also demanded that Hussein Arab should be summoned before the court to give his testimony on the license issued for al-Nashri, but the court was heedless to his requests.
Political observers considered the document as evidence of the penetration of terrorists into the security apparatus of the country. This document is still creating ripples about security in Yemen, which seemed to have been penetrated by al-Qaeda. The US officials were concerned after the September 11th terrorist attacks in the US, that al-Qaeda actively operates inside the security and military institutions in Yemen.
Al-Samawi presented two alibi witnesses who confirmed that the second suspect Jamal al-Badwi was not present in Aden before, during and after the USS Cole terrorist attack, and that he was in Sana'a during that time. The two witnesses Amar Rashad and Omar Abdulrahman said that al-Badwi was in Sana'a at that time.
During the proceeding, al-Samawi also asked that the camera, which the prosecution claimed that it was to be used in filming the attack on the Cole, should be inspected by a photo expert to see whether it is able to film at the distance between the house of monitoring, and the location where the Cole was attacked. The court asked Mohammed al-Shaibani to verify and present a report on that in the next hearing, in which the case will be adjourned for final hearings. The court will also listen during the next hearing, on Wednesday, to the confession of defendant Fahd al-Qis'e concerning the camera. The prosecution said previously that al-Qis'e confessed he was given the camera by al-Badwi to film the bombing, but in court, he said al-Badwi asked him to preserve it for him. Al-Samawi said earlier AL-Badwi used to use it in filming mosques that needed support and furniture, to present the films to benevolent people.