Kidnapper of German sentenced to death [Archives:2002/15/Copy of front]

April 8 2002

SANAA, April 3 (Reuters) – A Yemeni court sentenced to death a Yemeni tribesman on Wednesday for kidnapping a German man and holding him hostage for two weeks, a judicial official said.
The ruling by the appeals court, which specialists in kidnapping and terrorism cases, was harsher than a jail term of 25 years passed by a lower court against Ahmad Nasser al-Zaidi in December.
The court upheld 20-year prison terms in absentia against three fugitive accomplices in the abduction of 50-year-old Carl Lehrner in November.
Zaidi, unemployed and in his 30s, had earlier said he acted to protest against his living conditions. He can appeal against the death sentence to Yemens supreme court.
Armed tribesmen snatched Lehrner, who worked at a car dealership, from the capital Sanaa just hours after Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh started a visit to Germany.
Special forces backed by helicopters stormed the kidnappers hideout two weeks later and freed their hostage. Tribal sources said about five people were killed and several wounded during the operation.
Scores of tourists and foreigners working in this poor Arab country have been kidnapped in recent years, often by disgruntled tribesmen seeking better state services and regional infrastructure, or the release of jailed relatives.
In 1998 the authorities introduced the death penalty for kidnappers to stamp out frequent abductions of foreigners.
The country, plagued by lawlessness and tribal violence, has launched a manhunt for two Yemenis and other suspected backers of Saudi-born dissident Osama bin Ladens network, who reportedly were being protected by powerful tribes.

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