Yemeni fishermen return home and Yemeni court released a Somali [Archives:2007/1041/Local News]

April 12 2007

HADRAMOUT, April 11 ) As many as 116 fishermen from different Yemeni coastal cities have returned home after 15 days of captivity by the Somali authorities. The Yemenis were arrested while they were fishing near the Somali city of Hafoun, which is 400 km away from Mukalla city.

Hearing the capture story, Mukalla fishermen seized some Somali fishing boats as a reaction to the detention of their friends. The Mukalla-based Fishermen Association forwarded the case to the local authorities, which in return claimed the Somali government to free the Yemeni fishermen.

Through their attorney in Mukkalla city, the Somali fishermen asked for $2,500 per boat and demanded for the all boats which are 8 to be restored, a Fishermen Association source said. He added that the Yemeni fishermen have been subjected to insult, extortion, and intimidation by the Somalis in order not to stop repeating their mistake.

The source, who requested not to be identified, disclosed something similar to a custom exercised by the Yemeni fishermen and their Somali counterparts as the former provides boats for the latter to fish and then buy the catch. However, after making much money, the Somali fishermen purchased boats for themselves and refused to cooperate with the Yemenis.

The Somalis believed that the Yemeni fishermen compete them, which is why they resorted to seize the Yemeni boats and asked for sums of money as a ransom. Also, the source added that any Yemeni fisherman wishing to fish in Somalia's waters must pay $1,200 as ransom. He expected that such an incident will not be repeated in the future because the Fishermen Association took preventive measures, which he hasn't revealed.

In other news, A Yemeni State Security Court handed down three-year imprisonment sentence to Abdullah Awad Al Mesri (Yemeni) from the date of his arrest for dealing in unlicensed weapons. The court, which held on Monday, acquitted Abdu Othman Soli, a Dane of Somali origin, of the charge of trying to smuggle weapons to Somalia. The court acquitted Al Mesri of harboring some Al Qaida suspects who had escaped from a security prison in Sana'a last year.

When the trial began on February 5, prosecutors charged the two men with smuggling arms, including anti-aircraft and sniper weapons, from Yemen to members of the Islamic Courts movements in Somalia.

The two men were among a group of eight foreigners arrested last October for their alleged links to the al-Qaeda terrorist network and involvement in smuggling weapons to Somalia in 2006.

Authorities later released a German, a Briton, an Austrian, and three Australians after police interrogators found that they had failed to submit evidence that could substantiate the charges.