Verdict concerning murder of US doctors in Jibla declared:Death sentence [Archives:2003/635/Front Page]

May 12 2003

By Ibrahim Al-Dahhan
Yemen Times Staff & Reuters

IBB (Saturday May 10) – The Jibla Court of Appeal has issued on Saturday a sentence of capital punishment against Abid Abdulrazzaq Al-Kamil, 30, the murderer of an American missionary doctor and two of her colleagues in December 30th 2002 in Jibla.
During the court's fifth and final session concerning this particular case, Judge Abduraqib Al-Nabhani issued the verdict that the killer be executed with 'Ta'zeer' -public execution and hanging corpse in public for a few days- as a means to show the brutality of his crimes. Kamil had said in one of the trial sessions that he “killed the three Christian missionaries to get closer to Allah and to take revenge on Christians and Americans.”
Kamil confessed that he did kill the doctors, but tried to provide justifications that the doctors attempted to Christianize the locals in Jibla. “I have done this after the government failed in carrying out its duties in changing what is wrong and implementing the rulings that came out of the other case when I filed a lawsuit against the American doctors for trying to spread Christianity in Jibla.” he said. He also said that he was told that Yemeni women used to visit the hospital to get sterilized and this action is against the teachings of Islam.
A state-run newspaper said in January that Kamil admitted meeting members of the militant al Qaeda network, including a suicide bomber who attacked the warship USS Cole in Yemen in October 2000.
Confined to a cage and dressed in a blue prison uniform, he appeared calm as the sentence was read out amid tight security.
He protested the ruling, saying he should have been tried by an Islamic court and not a civil court. His lawyer, Mahroos Aqaba, said he would appeal the sentence, which is usually enforced by firing squad. “The sentence cannot be carried out because it will justify killing a Muslim for killing an infidel. All my defendant did was defend his religion, which is a noble mission of all Muslims in the world against those who want to convert Muslims into Christians.” he said.
“The ruling is a political one and violates Islamic Sharia law,” Kamil told the court in Ibb province, 170 km (105 miles) south of the capital Sanaa.
If Kamil's lawyer fails to provide substantial evidence of the claims of Kamil that the American doctors were indeed part of a massive Christianization campaign, the defendant will probably be executed within one month from the date of the verdict.
Unlike similar court sessions throughout the country, including the trial of the murderers of Jarallah Omar – a former opposition leading opposition figure assassinated soon after the American doctors -, the sessions in this case were open to the press and were carried out somewhat transparently. The trial sessions were attended by various important personalities in the country including a representative of the US Embassy in Sanaa. The link between the assassination of Jarallah Omar and this of Abid are still unclear and lawyers of Jarallah Omar objected to carrying out the execution before unveiling all the hidden facts about the motives and accomplices of the two killers. The killer of Jarallah Omar, Ali Jarallah was also a member of a cell that was plotting attacks against what they called secular-minded politicians, intellectuals and other foreign interests.
On the other hand, the assassin of Omar who is being tried in Sana'a refused in the hearings to speak unless his speech is broadcasted through the media. He said that the media has influenced his case and tarnished his image before the Yemeni public and that he should be given the right to speak to the public. He demanded a one-hour-and-a-half time to defend himself on live broadcast. During the last session, the prosecutor presented the court a video tape recording investigation after his killing. He said he killed Jarallah Omar as he does not recognize the Islamic Shariah and demanded that death penalty should be called off which is a violation of Islam. Three witnesses also appeared before court. The prosecutor also read a letter written by Ali Jarallah in which he confessed his crime and other crimes plotted to be carried out. However, the assassin refused to talk and said he would die with his secrets unless his demands are met. He challenged the prosecutor to do that and let him speak on public. The court refused during the last three hearings to let journalists working for non-government media to attend and photograph the trial hearing. In the last one, journalists were let in but without cameras. The court decided to release two of the other ten suspects.
Last December, Kamil smuggled a rifle into a Baptist hospital in the southern town of Jibla and shot dead the three missionaries and wounded an American pharmacist.
Martha Myers, 57, a physician from Alabama, William Koehn, 60, an administrator from Texas and Kathleen Gariety, 53, a purchasing agent from Wisconsin were all buried in Yemen.
Many Jibla residents were distraught over the attack. Myers had worked at the hospital for 25 years and Koehn for 28 years.
Anti-American sentiment is high in Yemen because of U.S. support for Israel, the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan and the U.S.-led war in Iraq, which has incensed the Arab world.
But the Yemeni government has been trying to shed its image as a haven for radical Islamists and has rounded up dozens of al Qaeda members.