Court postpones trial of 17 suspects [Archives:2006/932/Front Page]

March 27 2006

SANA'A, March 25 ) The State Security Specialized Penal Court postponed the trial of 17 suspects accused of forming an armed band and plotting to attack U.S. citizens in Yemen. Last Saturday's session was devoted to final appeals, upon request of the prosecutor, who said he had evidence revealing names of new suspects.

The court allowed Prosecution to speak with jail officials concerning prison law application and transferring suspects to the Central Prison.

At the session, the prosecutor told the court he has a list of new suspects, which he will show court staff this Saturday after investigating them. He also discussed the court's previous decision to refer two suspects to a legitimate physician and allow their families to visit them.

The prosecutor presented a medical report on health conditions of suspects No. 10 and 13, Ahmad Al-Zahiri and Musa'ed Al-Berairi, after being transferred to a legitimate physician. He said he allowed suspects' families to visit their relatives and denied statements by defense lawyers that they were prevented from meeting their clients.

The defense team asked the court to transfer their clients to the Central Prison and demanded investigating political security officials, alleging they prevented them from meeting their clients. They claimed their clients have been jailed in isolated cells for more than a year, although the law stipulates prisoners must not be kept in detention centers more than 24 hours.

Presenting new evidence, the prosecutor explained that the new suspects will be investigated and referred to the court to try according to Penal Procedure Article 223. The defense team opposed Prosecution's request to adjourn final appeals and prolong case procedures, demanding their clients be released on bail.

Abdulmalik Al-Sanabani, the five Saudi suspects' defense lawyer, pointed out that three of his clients have been jailed since they arrived in Yemen in 2005 and the other two since 2004. He demanded the court allow the inmates' families to visit them and release them on bail.

The father of suspect No. 1 Ali Hayyan Al-Harithi said he handed metals free of explosives to the political security organization chairman and representatives. He pointed out that he signed a paper which he did not know its content, as he is illiterate, while his son was detained at political security.

The father of suspect Mohamed Al-Qabsh, a Yemeni expatriate, said, “I notified Yemen's political security that my son wanted to travel to Iraq for jihad and therefore, he faced a false charge.”

The defense lawyer for suspects No. 4 and 16 responded to the four-page lawsuit and presented documents stating that his client, suspect No. 16 Mohamed Arafj, has suffered mental disorders for 10 years. He claimed Arafj's health deteriorated much more after entering political security detention and he still is taking medicine.

The 17 suspects, including five Saudi nationals, face charges of forming an armed band in 2004 and 2005 to launch offensives against U.S. citizens in Yemen and senior government officials. The band was accused of belonging to Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi's cell.