Verdict on USS Cole suspects Sept. 29, US wants justice [Archives:2004/774/Front Page]

September 20 2004

Mohammed Al-Qadhi
The Penal Court concerned with crimes of terrorism decided to pass the verdict against the USS Cole suspects on September 29th, while the suspects still deny the accusations against them of involvementments in terrorist attacks, claiming they were subjected to torture.
In its last hearing, run last Wednesday, the court listened to closing arguments from both the prosecutors and the defense lawyers. The prosecutor Ali al-Samit demanded the conviction of the suspects and a heavy punishment for their involvement in the terrorist attack against the USS Cole destroyer on October 12th 2000, in the port of Aden. The prosecutor said the six suspects, one in US custody, were “engaged in an armed ring targeting the US destroyer and harming the national interests of the country, putting Yemen as a target in the international war on terror.” He also asked for the confiscation of the seized materials.
For his part, the defense lawyer Abdulaziz al-Samawi refuted the accusations of the prosecution against his clients. He said that the prosecution exaggerated many things in the case. He also presented the evidence of a piece of news published in the armed forces paper 26 September Weekly, to prove that the first prime suspect Abdulraheem al-Nasheri is held in US custody, as the prosecution and court said earlier that they have not received official documents to prove that he has been arrested in the US. Al-Samawi expressed surprise at how a man can be simultaneously tried before two courts in two different countries. He even went on to ask for the halt of the tribunal until al-Nasheri, whose extradition has been requested, is brought back to Yemen. “I am afraid that these suspects will be used as scapegoats because the prosecution has been unable to catch the real perpetrators,” he said.
Al-Samawi asked the court to acquit the five suspects he is defending, and stated that their dignity should be restored.
The suspects themselves, from behind the bar, denied the accusations of their involvement in the attack on the USS Cole, and claimed they surrendered to the authorities. The second suspect, Jamal al-Badwi, said that they do not recognize the prosecution. “We'd only recognize a legal judge,” he said, adding that throughout four years, the prosecution has failed to present any concrete proof against them. “All that has been stated as confessions made by us during the prosecution investigation is completely false.” The other suspects also denied allegations made by the prosecutor. Some of them acknowledged their travel to Afghanistan just for juristic preparation.
Al-Samawi expected that the suspects would be convicted but not in the way the prosecution wants.
The US government followed up the trial hearings from the beginning and a US official told the Yemen Times that his country is concerned that justice should be served in this case.