Limburg Suspects Allege being Interrogated by US Investigators [Archives:2004/756/Front Page]

July 19 2004

Mohammed Al-Qadhi
The suspected terrorists on trial on charges of blowing up the French oil tanker 'Limburg' and operating other terrorist attacks claimed on Saturday that they were interrogated by US investigators. Fawaz al-Rabee, the leading member of the group, said he and his friends were interrogated by the US investigators.
The Yemeni government repeatedly said that the US investigators can not interrogate the suspects directly and that they can just hand over their questions to their Yemeni counterparts, who would obtain replies from the suspects.
'They have threatened to take me to Guantanamo or do the same thing they did with al-Harithi or even make the Yemeni authorities sentence me to death,' al-Rabee said in the seventh hearing on Saturday.

The Sana'a Criminal Court for Terrorism started the first hearing of the tribunal of the 15 suspected terrorists charged with several terrorist operations and plots on May 29th. One of the 15 is being tried in absentia. The prosecution charged the fifteen suspected terrorists with blowing up the French oil tanker in Mukalla in October 2002, carrying out several bombings in Sana'a, killing one soldier and plotting to blow up the US, UK, French, German and Cuban embassies in Sana'a as well as plotting to kill the US ambassador to Yemen, Edmund Hull.
The suspected terrorists who appeared heedless of the trial procedures, yelling 'death to the US' and hailing for Osama bin Laden, demanded again that they should be transferred from the prison of the Political Security Organization (PSO) to the central prison. However, the prosecutor refused their request for security reasons. The al-Qaida suspects claimed they were beaten up and harassed and are being treated in an inhuman way. Yemen Times learnt that the advocates who attended the last three sessions faced pressure from their colleagues who withdrew from the trial because of the reluctance of the prosecution to give them full access to the investigation file. Mohammed Allawo and other two advocates withdrew twice and said that the prosecutor refused to let them have copies of the case file. They accused the trial of being unjust and that their presence was meant to be just a decoration for the trial.
The prosecutor Saeed al-Akil said before the court judge, Judge Ahmad al-Jermuzi, in the first hearing that the suspected terrorists rented a house in Hadramaut to store explosives and another to prepare the boat; he said the boat cost $20,000. They also bought two tons of explosives and stuffed the boat with approximately 1150-1250 kilos of TNT and 20 kilos of C4, plus a number of flashtubes. The operation against the tanker left one dead and caused, according to the prosecutor, an environment catastrophe. He also accused some of them, mainly Fawaz al-Rabee, of firing against the helicopter owned by the US oil company Hunt, wherein one of the crew was wounded. He said seven rockets were launched against the plane, in addition to over 150 bullets fired by Hizam Mujali. The prosecution also accused them of carrying out several terrorist explosions in different parts of the capital Sana'a, including the office of the intelligence and house of one of its directors. The charges also included a plot to blow up the US, UK, French, German and Cuban embassies in Sana'a as well as killing the US ambassador to Yemen, Edmund Hull.
In a second case currently being tried at the same court, regarding the bombing of USS Cole, a warrant was issued last Wednesday for the arrest of Abdulraheem al-Nashri, the suspected mastermind of the terrorist attack. During the second hearing the prosecutor presented before the court judge Najeeb al-Qaderi with 17 medical reports on the victims of the operation. He also said that the US embassy in Sana'a informed the prosecution that the victims' families would like to appoint a representative to attend the trial. 'For the time being the Legal Department head (FBI officer) at the embassy would represent them till the official representative comes from the US,' the prosecutor al-Akil said. However, he said that the Legal Department officer was absent during the second hearing. He said Mr. Steven Golden would be informed to attend the next hearing.
The prosecutor accused the suspect terrorists of forming or setting up an armed gang, membership of al-Qaida and planning, plotting terrorist acts against the USS Cole, which affected the Yemeni-U.S. relationship, placing Yemen as a target in the war on terrorism.
The five suspects in the Cole case appeared in court under a heavy guard. A sixth man, the alleged ring leader Abdul Raheem al-Nashri, is in U.S. custody. He was announced in the first hearing as far from justice and that announcement was published in the official media. The prosecutor showed the judge the announcement published in the media concerning al-Nashri, who was arrested in the UAE and turned over to the US. Yemen said that contacts are underway in the US concerning the extradition of the man to be tried along with his friends. However, political analysts dismissed the possibility of Yemen's ability to get al-Nashri back as the man is so important for the US, which believes he can be of help to it in disclosing significant information on al-Qaida activities.
In the attack in 2000, two suicide bombers Hasan al-Khameri and Ibraheem al-Thawr, in an explosive-laden boat, rammed into the USS Cole as it was refueling in the port city of Aden. The attack on the U.S. Navy destroyer killed 17 American sailors and wounded 39 others.
The suspect terrorists refused to comment on the charges without the presence of their lawyers; Allawo and Abdulaziz al-Samawi were selected by the five suspects in the first hearing. Allawo attended by the end of the hearing; he demanded that he should be given full access to all the documents related to the case which the prosecutor refused. The judge ordered that he should be able to meet his clients and copy whatever is possible from the investigation report.