Kidnappers on the stand [Archives:2006/1001/Local News]

November 23 2006

SANA'A, Nov.19 ) This week the Yemeni State Security Court began hearing charges against two tribesmen accused in the kidnapping of four French tourists in South Eastern Yemen this past September.

The four Frenchmen were kidnapped on Sept. 10 in the Haban district of Shabwa province, about 460 kilometers from Sana'a. They were taken by armed men from the Al-Abdullah clan, who threatened to kill them to press the government to release jailed relatives

The hostages were released on Sept. 25 and four days later security forces announced the capture of five men suspected of involvement in the kidnapping.

The two defendants, Ahmad Haidara Laswad Salfouh, and Rajih Muhammad Ahmad Salim, appeared handcuffed before the presiding judge, Najeeb Al-Qadri, during the brief opening hearing. The judge adjourned the trial until Nov. 25.

Al-Abdullah is the same clan that kidnapped and held a German diplomat, his wife and three sons along with four Italian tourists in December 2005.

The clan member say authorities broke a promise they had been given following the release of the German family. The clan was expecting the release of their relatives after they freed the family.

Many tourists and foreigners working in Yemen have been kidnapped over the past decade by tribesmen demanding better schools, roads and services, or the release of prisoners. Most hostages have been released unharmed, but three Britons and an Australian seized by Islamist militants were killed when security forces stormed their hideout in December 1998.