Italians’ kidnappers stand trial [Archives:2006/913/Front Page]

January 19 2006

By: Mohammed Al-Jabri
SANA'A, Jan. 11 ) On Wednesday, the Specialized Penal Court began the trial of six accused kidnappers of five Italian tourists on January 1. At the first session of their trial, the six confessed that they willingly surrendered themselves to security authorities after negotiating with them in the presence of the Minister of Interior deputy and Serwah district mayor, believing they would settle their differences with the government.

The six confessed to kidnapping five Italian tourists in Serwah district in Marib. The Italian hostages remained in captivity for six days. However, they denied the court's indictment that they formed an armed gang mainly to kidnap tourists.

The six accused are: Naji Mohammed Al-Zaidi, Mohammed Saleh Saleh Al-Zaidi, Merei' Ali Ahmed Al-Ameri, Ali Saleh Ubad Al-Zaidi, Abed Sahel Saleh Al-Zaidi and Hadi Mohammed Al-Ameri. All reside in Marib's Serwah.

The prosecution presented evidence in which the accused confessed their crime and how they planned to kidnap the Italian tourists. According to prosecution's investigation of the accused, the kidnappers met at Saleh Ubad Al-Zaidi's house, arranged their weapons and cars and then kidnapped the Italians in Marib at noon on January 1. They forcibly kidnapped the five Italian tourists, took their car and brought them to Al-Multaqa village in Serwah district.

Upon hearing of the kidnapping, security forces and terrorism fighting troops tightly surrounded the Marib area. The Italian Embassy in Sana'a urged the government not to resort to force and to seek a peaceful solution instead. The kidnappers stuck to their sole demand for releasing the hostages, which was the release of their detained relatives.

On January 6, mediation efforts by MP Sheikh Jaabel Tua'eman and Sheikh Derham Al-Dhama, general secretary of the local council in Serwah district, persuaded the kidnappers to release the Italian tourists in exchange for following up procedures in the case of the detained tribesmen.

The accused still demand eight Al-Zaidi tribesmen detained by security authorities be set free. The government detained the eight tribesmen to force the tribe to hand over the murderers of Sheikh Abdulwali Al-Qiari, killed by a group of armed men, who authorities believe are from Beit Al-Zaidi, in Sana'a at the end of 2004.

Lawyers for the accused, Saqr Abdulaziz Al-Samawi and Mohammed Tua'eman, asked the court to give them a copy of the case file and allow relatives of the accused to visit them. The court agreed to allow them to copy some case documents, as well as allow relative visits. It suspended the trial until next week.