Prisoner of political conscious dies in prison while others at risk [Archives:2007/1091/Front Page]

October 4 2007

By: Mohammed Bin Salam
SANA'A, Oct. 3 ) Death of 25 year old prisoner of conscious in Yemeni jail has stirred a lot of concern among Yemeni and International human rights organization. Hashem Abdullah Yahya Hajar who was detained in June this year died inside the central prison last Sunday. His family claims he was not provided adequate health care despite his dire health problems.

Yemeni journalist Abdulkarem Al-Khaiwani who had been a cellmate with Hajar during Al-Khaiwani's imprisonment last month.

“He was in a terrible health state. I told the security that he needs help but they did not acknowledge my pleas,” said Al-Khaiwani.

Hajar's family and lawyers accuse the prison authority for causing the death because of not taking his health problems seriously.

The medical report from the Kuwait University Hospital in Sana'a stated that he was suffering from chronic liver disease, hypertension, and congestive splenomegaly, and that he needed continuous supervision because of the risks associated with the necessary treatment. The report also advised that Hashem Abdullah Yahya Hajar needed rest and reduced stress.

Meanwhile, Minister of Justice has informed a delegation currently on a fact finding mission from Amnesty in International that there is “an ongoing investigation, and the state ensures medical health care for all its prisoners including those such as Hajar, Ba'oom and Al-Nouba”.

Hassan Ba'oom and Nasser al-Nouba, are respectively held at al-Mukalla in south-east Yemen and Aden in the south of the country. Hassan Ba'oom, aged 66, is said to suffer from diabetes, hypertension, renal dysfunctions, and to have difficulty breathing difficulties; he had open heart surgery about one year ago. Nasser al-Nouba, a retired army brigadier in his 50s, is reported to suffer from heart disease and diabetes. He is reportedly allowed to take his regular medicine but need and as yet has been denied hospital treatment.

“We are very concerned that other detainees with health problems are going to meet the same fate as Hajar. We have been informed that Ba'oom and Al-Nuba have not only been suffering from lack of medical care, but are also prevented from adequate food and family visits,” said Dr. Lamri Chirouf researcher at Amnesty International Middle East Program who is here in Sana'a on a fact finding mission for the organization.

Chirouf along with AI researcher Mohammed Lotfy have met with several authorities and concerned organizations in order to collect information regarding the human rights situation in Yemen.

Death circumstances

Hashem Abdullah Yahya Hajar died at 5.00am on 30 September 2007, eight hours after the detaining authorities transferred him from the Central Prison to nearby Al-Thawrah Hospital in Sana'a. Hajar's family refused to take the dead body until an autopsy is being carried so as to know if he was exposed to physical torture during detainment, demanding the prosecution of the parties that refused to release him to receive medications.

The dead body is now in the Al-Thawra hospital in the capital city of Sana'a.

Hajar's lawyer said that he submitted a lawsuit, Sunday, on behalf of the detainee's relatives regarding the premeditation murder to lodged against the people they hold accountable for the death. These include chief of the penalty prosecution, Sa'eed Al-Ajel along with the head of the penalty unit, Sa'eed Al-Kata' and the director of Anti-terrorism unit, Hisham Al-Ghazali in addition to the head of the central prison in Sana'a where he was detained.

“I hold the head of the specialized penalty prosecution and the chief of the appealing unit in the court accountable for my brother's death, demanding the formation of impartial committee to investigate the issue.,” Hajar's brother said.

The lawyer, Abdull-Rab Al-Murtadha considered it a premeditation committed by those.

He also pointed out that the head of the Penalty Unit ignored the release order made by the first penalty court. He refrained from submitting a copy of the order until they appealed before the appeal court. The lawyer was not allowed to attend the session during which the prosecution appeal concerning the release was held.

He said that the attorney general had made a written order to release Hajar but the head of the penalty prosecution Sa'eed Al-Ajel “refused to execute it deliberately”. Before this Hisham Al-Ghazali had physically tortured Hajr though the situation is critical, the lawyer added.

Al-Murtadha resorted to the office of the attorney general, demanding the release of Hajr, “Due to the critical condition because the law justifies stopping the execution of penalty in this case. Hajar is still a suspect and the suspect is innocent until convicted,” he said.

The accusation

Hashim Hajr, was detained on June 7, on charges of being involved with Al-Houthi rebels in the in Sa'ada war. The state also accused him along with his colleagues of forming a gang to carry out sabotaging acts exposing the community safety to jeopardy under the so called ” Sana'a Cell” aiming at poisoning drinking water.

Hajar is not married. He descends from a middle class family living in Sa'ada city. He is studying in the faculty of Commerce, Department of Accountancy. He was thrown into prison while suffering from hepatitis disease. The specialized penalty prosecution as well as the administration of the central prison did not listen to warnings made by the human rights organizations such as the Yemeni Organization for Defending rights and democratic freedoms, coalition of the civil society organizations having prominent and leading organizations and syndicates. They were very worried about Hajar's condition, considering his treatment as an inhuman and outrageous violation specially rules of human treatment , principles of human rights and provisions of law and constitution.

The first penalty court decided to release Hajr according to the medical report issued after three days of detainment. The prosecution however refrained from executing the decision, making an appeal before the specialized penalty unit.

Hajar went to the Yemeni authorities last June to meet his father's order to acquit him from involving in fighting with Houthis before included in the 19 persons. The authority claimed that these 19 persons including Al- Khaiwani formed Sana'a Cell.

During the last period, Hajar condition worsens, making Sana'a Cell inmates held hunger strike to demand medication. But the authority did not allow him to do so yet one hour before he died.

MP, Yahya Badr A. Al-Houthi, residing in Germany, expressed his sorrow over what he considered a premeditation crime against Hajar. In his letter, the Yemen Time received a copy of, he said, ” We were informed about the martyrdom of Hajar, killed at the hand of malicious people, in the prisons of abhorred systems, claiming lives of innocent people for 30 years. We still see and hear its bad deeds taking place in every span of our country.”

He also said that the deceased detainee is like those detained in Sana'a. He is not guilty. The only thing they have they hate the current regime, leading to miserable conditions of citizens. Our county is poor, deteriorated suffering from diseases, feuds and separations.

“We affirm to all that he is not the only one killed by this regime. There are tens of people who martyred, tortured and hindered. The crime took place inside the prison, so the authority has not alternative but to admit that. We had made an agreement and a reconciliation with the system. The regime should present those criminals who killed Hashim before a fair and impartial court in order to execute retribution, releasing all the detainees, Yahya Al-Houthi concluded his letter.

The Amnesty International delegation will be returning to Yemen again in order to continue fact collecting. AI had investigated the file of the detainees of 1994 war, contributing to the release of hundreds of the people detained by the authority. They were affiliated to the YSP, Yemeni Socialist Party and other parties during and after the war.