Journalist’s lawyer demanded YR 10 million compensationVerdict on Thabet’s case to be issued on April 13 [Archives:2004/726/Front Page]

April 5 2004

The Western Sana'a Court, hearing the case of journalist Saeed Thabet Saeed, is to issue its verdict on Tuesday, April 13, whilst the defense advocates demanded compensation of YR 10 million for the journalist and his family.
Thabet was arrested on March 5th and was put in jail by intelligence agents on charges of “spreading false reports” on the attempted assassination against the son of President Ali Saleh (Colonel Ahmad, commander of Republican Guard and Special Tasks Forces). In its last hearing on Saturday, the court listened to the defense of advocates Mohammed Naji Allaw and other lawyers in which they refuted the allegations of the prosecution. Allaw said that Thabet's work as a reporter for Quds Press, which published the news, does not make Thabet, first Deputy Chairman of the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate, accountable for the published news. He demanded that the court judge Mohammed Sharaf Eddin acquit his client and order compensation of YR 10 million to be paid by the intelligence service, whose agents kidnapped the journalist from the street, refusing his appeal to even bring his kid who was with him home. He also demanded a payment of YR 2 million for the advocates.
The prosecutor insisted that the journalist was guilty. Thabet refused to answer the questions of the judge, demanding that the investigation report by the prosecution should be read overtly at the court. The judge agreed to that.
Allaw presented to the court the letter sent by the UN High Commission for Human Rights to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The letter stated “I should appeal to your Excellency's Government to take all necessary steps to secure the right to freedom of opinion and expression of the above mentioned person (Saeed Thabet), in accordance with fundamental principles as stipulated in article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
Reporters Sans Frontier already demanded the Yemeni Government to drop the trial of Thabet, whilst around 50 volunteer advocates demanded in previous hearings that the intelligence agents and prosecutors should be held accountable for kidnapping and detaining a member of the YJS board.
The final hearing session was attended by al-Amri Sharoof, Head of the Amnesty International delegation that arrived in Yemen last Wednesday to investigate the human rights situation in the country.
Several local and international human rights and press freedom NGOs condemned the arrest of the journalist and stated that they consider it a backward step for Yemen's press freedom.