TORTURE [Archives:1998/14/Front Page]
In a confused and misplaced sense of solidarity, the security apparatus embarked on a frenzied cover-up effort last week. The Hodeidah Investigation Office had manhandled a young man – Suhail A. Luqman, who is accused of armed robbery of the aCommercial Bank of Yemen, Hodeidah Branch.
Acting on descriptions by witnesses of the one-man heist, and given the subsequent pressure to find the robber, investigations officers ‘needed’ a suspect.
They did better than that. They got a written confession from Suhail.
But the case backfired. The boy belongs to a well-known family, the Luqmans of Aden, who are well-connected. The family raised hell.
It was soon uncovered that the confession was obtained following three days of brutal torture. “I was willing to sign anything to make them stop the pain,” he told Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf, Chairman of the Human Rights, Liberties and NGOs Committee of the Consultative Council (CC), who led a team on a field investigation of the case. Suhail was released on the basis of a firm guarantee to present him to court.
The strange development in all of this is that the attorney-general’s office was playing a meek role. The Hodeidah attorney office played second fiddle to the security men.
“In this case, the family was able to mobilize people to act on the problem. I shiver to think what happens to victims who are unable to get such attention,” Saqqaf said.
The Government and parliament have also shown interest in the case. Many Hodeidah based members of parliament were actively involved, especially Abdul-Wahab Thabit, Abdul-Galil Radman, Abdullah Al-Dhahwi, Abdullah Khairan and others.
The Hodeidah Investigations Office is also responsible for other atrocities. The officers there routinely torture suspects, with no fear of accountability. There is now the will to bring an end to this shame.