Security men prevent Al-Khaiwani protestors from reaching judiciary council [Archives:2008/1171/Local News]

July 10 2008

By: Saddam Al-Ashmori
For the Yemen Times

SANA'A, July, 9)Protesters gathered for a sit-in in front of the Supreme Judiciary Council in support of journalist Abdulkarim Al-Khaiwani were surprised by the extensive police deployment on Al-Adel and other nearby streets in Sana'a.

Backed by military vehicles, a group of police imposed a complete blockade against all avenues leading to the judiciary council in order to prevent protesters from reaching and gathering in the area.

Al-Khaiwani, the editor of the weekly Al-Shoura newspaper, is currently serving six years in prison and was sentenced on June 9th.

The protest was organized by civil society groups who objected to a specific point in Al-Khaiwani's sentencing. According to Yemeni law, convicted prisoners do not have begin serving their sentence immediately unless the judge specifies it. Al-Khaiwani was directly imprisoned even though the judge in his case did not specify that he needed to begin his sentence immediately.

The protesters and the media were banned from taking photos of the military deployment in the area by security forces who tried to confiscate their cameras and video devices. Al-Jazeera channel was also prevented from taking photos of the sit-in and the security's reaction to it.

Following that, protestors moved to the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate's office where they suggested investigation into Al-Khaiwani's sentencing and advocated for his release from prison.

Civil society organizations like Arab Sister Forum that gathered in support of Al-Khaiwani's case said in a statement that the procedures taken by the authorities to prevent peaceful protesters from gathering contradict Yemeni law and the right to freedom of expression.

Local and international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International together with the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate have demanded the immediate release of Al-Khaiwani.

Al-Khaiwani's sentence came through a primary court, which does not have the final say, so he will still be able to appeal his case.

The Attorney General said that a term in the verdict stipulates that “those who are released on bail are re-imprisoned if the sentence includes immediate execution.”

However, the Yemeni Journalist Syndicate released a statement saying that Al-Khaiwani's primary court sentence did not include a request for his immediate execution.

Al-Khaiwani had been released on bail during the trial for health reasons.

The statement, which also addressed the Attorney General and judiciary officials, said that the syndicate recorded a film of the verdict and sentencing session that proved there were no additional terms like a request for immediate execution or a request to start his prison term immediately. The syndicate claims these additional terms were fabricated to justify Al-Khaiwani's immediate transfer to prison.