USS Cole-related suspect released [Archives:2006/953/Front Page]

June 8 2006

SANA'A, June 7 ) The Specialized Penal Court released Nawaf Mohammed Bouhij, suspected of hiding criminals accused of bombing the USS Cole, following time he already served in jail.

Judge Mohammed Al-Badani declared Bouhij innocent of accusations attributed to him regarding forming an armed gang and participating in attacks against general authority personnel while investigating Gamal Al-Badawi, Fahd Al-Qusea and others in the wake of the Oct. 12, 2000 USS Cole incident.

At the trial's first session on April 30, Penal Prosecution accused Bouhij and Al-Qusea of hiding suspects in Marib and participating with others in forming an armed gang to attack military personnel in charge of monitoring convicts while trying to catch the two men at a checkpoint between Abyan and Marib governorates.

Al-Badawi, Al-Qusea and eight others convicted of bombing the USS Cole escaped from prison in Aden, but later were caught to stand trial Sept. 29, 2005. The Penal Court sentenced Al-Badawi to death and Al-Qusea to 10 years' imprisonment; however, the Appeals Court later commuted Al-Badawi's sentence to five years' imprisonment.

Al-Badawi and 22 others again managed to escape Political Security Prison in Sana'a by digging a 44-meter-long tunnel from the prison into a women's bathroom at a nearby mosque. Authorities declare that eight of the 23 have been recaptured and they are searching for the rest.