Suspects indifferent and hailed for Bin LadenProsecutor & judge quit tribunal [Archives:2004/758/Front Page]

July 26 2004

Mohammed Al-Qadhi
The eighth hearing session in the tribunal of the 15 alleged al-Qaeda suspects, one of them still at large, on charges of blowing up a French Tanker and other terrorists operations turned into a debate between the prosecutor and the suspects, which led the prosecutor to prematurely quit the hearing. The hearing, which was boycotted by the advocates because of the refusal of the prosecution to provide them with copies of the investigation reports, started Saturday with the presentation of some evidence by the prosecution.
The court judge listened to the testimony of the merchant who bought the car that was used in carrying the boat used in attacking the Limburg. Other evidence and reports were read out in the courtroom while the suspects showed indifference to what was going on, refusing to comment on the charges in the absence of their advocates.
Chief prosecutor Saeed al-Aki and his deputy Saeed al-Samit quit the session before the judge Ahmad al-Jermozi announced its end. The prosecutor left the courtroom when the suspects refused to keep mute and listen to the evidences presented by the prosecutor; complaining that they were harassed in the intelligence prisons, and demanding that they should be transferred to the central prison. They even shouted and hailed after they said they were teased by intelligence agents; they claimed they do not care whatever sentence they got, death or imprisonment, as much as they were annoyed by the interrogation that they were subjected to by some US men and women investigators. “It is you who gave permission that we be interrogated by the Americans. Sit down or you want to turn the judge into a decoration,” said alleged ring leader Fawaz al-Rabee when talking with the prosecutor. The suspects said they were teased by intelligence agents and that they should yell with their slogan and then burst together “Allah Akabar, death to the US. Bin Laden is the dear of God.” This angered the prosecutor al-Akil who asked the judge to silence them and then left the courtroom before its end. On his part, the judge, who appeared very weak and influenced by the prosecution from the first hearing, felt insulted by this behavior of al-Aki and left the courtroom without terminating the hearing or even fixing a date for the next hearing session. The suspects appealed to the judge to listen to them but to no avail; they told him “listen to us otherwise we will not forgive you now or in the hereafter.”
The fifteen suspected terrorists were charged in the first hearing with blowing up the French Oil Tanker in Mukalla in October 2002, carrying out several explosions 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 killing the US ambassador to Yemen Edmund Hull.
The only advocate who was present Faiz al-Hajori described the quit of the prosecution as against the law. “The prosecutor violated the law by this behavior as the hearing was not yet concluded by the judge. The prosecutor was angered by the suspects who have the right to convey their demands to the judge,” said al-Hajori while talking to journalists outside the courtroom. He said that his friends boycotted the tribunal as they were denied access to copies of the investigation reports so that they would be in a position to probe into the charges against their clients.
The suspects said the orders of the judge in the last sessions were not enacted. They complained that their friend Aref Mujali was not attended to by the doctor despite the serious wound in his leg but the judge ordered the prosecution again to take him to the doctor.
When journalists approached the bar, the suspects were furious and said “come and report what is going on. Otherwise, we will come out and turn into atomic bombs that would blow you up.” It seems that both the prosecutor and the suspects are not happy with journalists for the prosecutor allowed filming only before the hearing for five minutes. When journalist Khalid al-Mahdi, reporterfor the German DPA agency tried to take a picture during the hearing, the prosecutor shouted at him and asked the judge to kick him out. Journalists were furious and intended to leave the courtroom but the judge calmed them down.
During the session it was found in the reports of the prosecution that the boat used in the bombing was made in the UAE and was bought for around one million and eight hundred thousand Rials. The suicide bombers were Khaithama al-Hadramai and Hussein al-Badwi; al-Badwi is the brother of the second prime suspect in the USS Cole terrorist attack Jamal al-Badwi.
The reluctance of the prosecution to allow advocates to have copies of the case files and the insistence of the advocates, as well as the refusal of the suspects to comment on charges, have all crippled the progress of the tribunal despite the fact that it started on May 29th.
The same problem is found in the tribunal of the USS Cole 6, one tried in absentia, suspect operatives. The advocates Khaled al-Anisi and Abdulaziz al-Samawi insisted in the third hearing held last Wednesday that they should have copies of the case files to which the judge and prosecutor refused and said they are allowed to copy whatever is possible only. “We are committed not to display any secrets if secrecy is what the prosecution wants to maintain,” said al-Samawi.
The suspects refused to comment until their advocates have this right. However, the court judge Najeeb al-kaderi who looked more influential and controlling, said this behavior on the part of the suspects will be considered as a refusal to reply on changes and that the procedures of the hearing would go on. The judge even fined the two advocates YR 2000 each for talking in the courtroom without his permission. He also authorized Mohammed al-Azani to defend the prime suspect Abdulraheem al-Nasheri being in US custody after his arrest in, and extradition from, the UAE. The judge ordered the arrest of al-Nasheri and considered him a suspect still at large.
The court, on July 7th, charged the six alleged operatives of the al-Qaida terror network in connection with the bombing of the USS Cole four years ago.
The prosecutor accused the suspected terrorists of forming or setting up an armed gang, and joining al-Qaida and planning, terrorist acts against the USS Cole, which affected the Yemeni-U.S. relationship, putting Yemen as a target in the war on terrorism. 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 two trials are carried out amidst intensive security measures.