Journalists demand no prison for Al-Odaini [Archives:2006/997/Front Page]

November 9 2006

By:Saddam Al-Ashmouri
SANA'A, Nov. 8 ) Numerous journalists, lawyers and human rights activists staged a sit-in Tuesday in front of Parliament, demanding that Mohammed Sadiq Al-Odaini, head of the Center for Training and Protecting Journalist Freedom, not be imprisoned.

Following a one-day sit-in at Yemeni Journalists Syndicate headquarters, demonstrators headed to the attorney general's office, requesting that he suspend Al-Odaini's prison sentence. The Primary Court sentenced Al-Odaini to a three-year prison term and fined him YR 1.2 million, a ruling the demonstrators consider unjust.

In a letter to the attorney general, demonstrators requested suspending Al-Odaini's judgment and enabling him to appeal and defend himself before the appropriate court.

The letter also hinted that Al-Odaini's trail was unfair because he isn't guilty. Moreover, it noted that personal freedoms shouldn't be restricted by only a blunt ruling.

For his part, Attorney General Dr. Abdullah Al-Alfi promised to study Al-Odaini's case within 10 days, having already requested the case file from the Primary Court.

Earlier this month, the court issued ruled in absentia, dictating Al-Odaini's imprisonment and fining him YR 1.2 million after convicting him of attempted murder.

The ruling also may have had something do with his opposition to influential individuals and sheikhs in Al-Odain district in Ibb province.

Al-Odaini was surprised by the ruling, as he hadn't known anything about the case or any court sessions until the judgment was issued.

He also indicated that he was subject to threats, particularly after publishing an article entitled, “It's enough, president,” on several web sites.

Al-Odaini previously was subjected to 18 threats and imprisoned for more than two years in a case wherein he was wrongly accused. He was freed after human rights organizations intervened.

The Center for Training and Protecting Journalist Freedoms, which Al-Odaini heads, denounced and rejected the ruling against its chairman, considering it standard in Yemen's judiciary to issue judgments without trial.

Previously, the appeals court asked Al-Odaini to accept the ruling and then challenge it if he believes it unjust.