Defense presents case in Al-Ray Al-A’am trial [Archives:2006/934/Front Page]

April 3 2006

Yasser Al-Mayasi
SANA'A, April 2 ) At the West Capital Court's April 1 session in the Al-Ray Al-A'am newspaper trial, the defense, led by Allaw Establishment and headed by lawyer Mohamed Naji Allaw, presented its pleading. The paper is being tried for republishing insulting caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh).

Defense confirmed a lack of material evidence due to absence of legal Sharia in the claim against the paper, asserting that republishing the caricatures to criticize them is not a crime, which is what the journalists did. Defense quoted a fatwa by prominent Islamic scholars, which validated republishing the caricatures to defend the prophet. It also presented Saudi Islamic Jurist 'Mufti' Dr. Suliman Al-Awdah, who republished the caricatures on Al-Arabia Satellite Channel, and Sheikh Mohamed Al-Arifi.

Allaw described Prosecution's claim of applying Sharia law upon the defendants as a demand for the death sentence against them for the crime they allegedly committed, even if the charge is wrong. Allaw continued, saying the case is a criminal one, which Prosecution lawyers are unauthorized to file because it is the Attorney General's duty.

Allaw stated that he is defending the journalists because they republished the caricatures to defend the prophet, adding that he is addressing all citizens, whatever their position, so they can distinguish what they hear before making premature judgments. He gave the example of mosque preachers who incited citizens against the journalists, deeming them to be the same as the Danish journalists, even collecting money to indict them.

Allaw asserted that Prosecution lawyers' allegations are full of lack of knowledge of the basis for law and Sharia. In return, Prosecution lawyers accused Allaw Establishment of receiving funds from foreign bodies, which they did not mention, to defend Yemeni newspapers that republished the caricatures, saying they have proof that Allaw Establishment received such sums, in dollars, to defend newspapers that insulted the prophet. They demanded that HOOD and Allaw Establishment be banned for this reason, as well as demanding that case documents, memos and correspondence be reviewed.

Press Prosecution requested the opportunity to respond to Defense claims at the next court session.