Two famous political prisoners will wait until November to appeal their cases [Archives:2008/1177/Local News]

July 31 2008

SANA'A, JULY 30 ) Since the Yemeni judiciary will be out of session beginning on the 1st of August, political prisoners Abdul Karim Al-Khaiwani and Fahd Al-Qarni will have to wait until November to continue their appeals trials in Sana'a.

On Tuesday, the Court of Appeals, which specializes in terrorism issues, delayed hearing a request filed by journalist Al-Khiwani's defense lawyer to release him from custody until November 2008.

Al-Khaiwani is the former editor of Al-Shoura newspaper and the winner of Amnesty International's special award for Journalism Under Threat. He was sentenced to six years in prison by a primary court in Sana'a on June 9, after he was convicted of forming an armed group to attack Yemen's interests and supporting Houthi rebels in the Sa'ada war in the north of Yemen.

During the all of his trials, Al-Khaiwani's defense lawyers rejected charges that he had backed Houthi rebels.

They said that materials about the insurgency in the north that were found in his possession were needed for his work as a journalist, and demanded his release from prison.

Yesterday, Sana'a primary court delayed both hearings for comic singer and actor Fahd Al-Qarni and Al-Khaiwani.

Al-Qarni was tried and convicted in a Taiz court and sentenced to one and a half years in prison plus a fine of YR 500,000. Al-Qarni was also ordered to hand over all recordings of his productions and had a bail set on the condition that he would not reproduce any of his work.

The Ministry of Culture and the ruling General People's Congress party (GPC) accused the singer, who is affiliated with the Islah Islamic opposition party, of motivating people to carry out armed revolt, resisting the government system and calling for revolution and secession. His prosecutors also said that Al-Qarni insulted the GPC as well as President Ali Abdullah Saleh in his performances.

In Al-Qarni's first case in Taiz he was prosecuted by the Ministry of Culture, and in Sana'a he is being tried with the same accusations by the Authority for Printing and Press.

The arrest of the two men raised both criticism and concern among journalists, Members of Parliament, human rights activists and civil society organizations in both Yemen and abroad towards Yemeni policies on freedom of the press.