Journalist faces execution, while another man faces death at hands of extremists [Archives:2008/1125/Local News]

January 28 2008

By:Yemen Times Staff
ADEN, Jan.30 ) The Syrah Primary Court in Aden experienced last Sunday the first session of the lawsuit lodged by the General Prosecution against the journalist Feras F. Yafa'ei as the latter was accused of drinking alcohol and tearing the Holy Quran into pieces and throwing it into the street.

Since the early morning of the session, the court hall and corridors were fully crowded by a huge number of religious extremists, making it difficult for the judge to go into the hall.

According to some locals, the mosques preachers called on the locals last Friday to head toward the court Sunday morning in order to attend the trial of the drunken man who tore the holy book. The purpose of the attendees is to pressure the court measures.

Some of the trial session attendees told the Yemen Times that two senior lawyers, namely Mohammed M. Nasser and Moneer Garadah, attended the trial to defend the suspect, who confessed that he drank alcohol but denied that he tore the Quran.

Judge Jamal A. O'mar demanded the general prosecution to bring witnesses in for proof in the court's next session, which will be held next week.

Central Security personnel carrying teargas bombs and firearms were viewed around the court premises, according to press sources.

Local press sources also said that since the arrest of Feras Yafea'ei at the last December, Al-Adhah Eid, the extremists conducted several campaigns to defame and sway public opinion against the suspect, who has not yet been convicted.

Some of the religious extremists emphasized the necessity of making the suspect repent, as Islam law stipulates the obligation of making the suspect confess and request repentance, or otherwise be killed.

The court will enact the punishment according to the Islamic law regarding the crime of drinking alcohol because the suspect confessed that before the court. According to the Islamic law, the punishment of drinking alcohol is 80 lashes.

Some observers expect that the issue will be prolonged because the suspect is accused of tearing the Quran, and there are a large number of extremists led via mosque preachers of the Salafi group who are keeping tabs on the case.

Likewise, Al-Sheik O'thman Prosecution Court in Aden investigated with Aymen M. Nasser, the Editor in Chief of Al-Tareek newspaper, as he and other people participated in the Reconciliation and Forgiveness Rally which took place on Jan.13 in Al-Hashemi square in Al-Sheik O'thman city.

Accompanied by three lawyers, Nasser requested the prosecution court to let him know the charge directed against him. He was told that investigation was based on a notification made by the governorate security in Aden against him and others. The charge, according to the governorate security notification, is, “Transgressing the Republic's independence, shaking security and social stability as well as exposing transportation to jeopardy, and damaging private properties.”

Attended by his lawyers, Nasser was being investigated from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

“I was asked 23 questions regarding my relationship with the rally and its preparation and the names of the organizers,” said Nasser.

“As a journalist and a participant, I was also investigated about the purpose and reasons why committees were formed to organize the rally and also the number of banners and slogans chanted. The investigators also asked me about if there were slogans chanted against the national unity or inciting violence and feuds. I denied all these charges,” he said.

Nasser was in charge of the media committee for the rally, in which three people were shot dead and tens were injured. This came after fierce clashes took place between the security personnel and protesters who chanted secessionist slogans.

Nasser also said that the charge against him in the security notice also carries the penalty of the death sentence according to Yemeni law.