Penal Court tries Second Sana’a Cell [Archives:2007/1097/Front Page]

October 25 2007

By: Mohammed Al-Qiri
For Yemen Times

SANA'A, Oct. 24 ) The Penal Court held three sessions this week to try the so-called Second Sana'a Cell on charges of supporting rebellion in the northern province of Sa'ada. The cell includes 15 suspects, of whom two are women.

The group also includes the well-known editor Abdull-Kareem Al-Khaiwani. Another suspect, Hashem Hajar, died inside the prison early this month.

Judg Mohammed Alwan, Head of the Primary Court, chaired the sessions. The suspects are accused of attempting to bomb public interests in the capital city of Sana'a as well as targeting government institutions.

During Wednesday session, investigations the third accused Mahfoodh and the fourth one Ali Muhsein Al-Hamzi were accused of transferring explosives, mobile phones and amounts of money belonging to Al-Houthi followers. The defendants, however, denied such charges, claiming that they received and handed over some medicines and detergents as a humanitarian assistance for citizens in Sa'ada province.

Abdull-Rab Al-Murtadha, a lawyer for one of defendants, said in a statement that he was exposed to intimidation by the head of the Penal Prosecution, Sa'eed Al-Aqel who said that the lawyer is more “dangerous than the cell and he is the inciter of it”.

Another lawyer, Basim Al-Sharjabi said, “The trial is not going on the right track. It lacks the conditions and guaranties of fair prosecution. The suspects were not able to have their legal rights in terms of defending themselves. They were deprived of copying the case's file as well.”

Furthermore, Al-Khaiwani said that appearing in person before the court is something extraordinary and illegal due to fabricating charges leveled against him. It is a very critical issue for the court attempts to make use of the issue, he noted, adding that the court does not accept opinions and freedom of expression.

“What is going on nowadays concerning this issue reveals a democracy that is not real. There are a lot of imbalances and infringements inside the courts,” Al-Khaiwaini said.

At the end of the session, the judge decided to refer the fourth defendant to a specialized physician as the former complained that he was exposed to torture during investigations. The judge assigned the prosecution to answer this suitcase, postponing the session until next Sunday to continue hearing the investigations of the prosecution with the 14 suspects.

The Court had issued its primary verdict on 22 November 2006 by Judge, Najeeb Al-Qaderi in view of the so-called First Sana'a Cell that included 36 people, of whom one is female.. A death sentence was made against one of the defendants. Others received imprisonment terms ranging from 10 to 3 years. However, The Court of Appeal will start reviewing this verdict next Saturday.