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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Yemeni court accuses men of Al Qaeda affiliation

The trial could see several men sentenced to death for their cooperation with the terrorist group

This file photo shows Yemen government fighters on the front line of the battle against Houthi rebels outside Sanaa on February 14, 2018. Bloomberg
This file photo shows Yemen government fighters on the front line of the battle against Houthi rebels outside Sanaa on February 14, 2018. Bloomberg

Several Yemenis accused of being members of Al Qaeda have gone on trial in a case that will look to set a legal precedent in the country’s anti-terrorism legislation, a source in the ministry of justice told The National.

Judge Wahib Fadel opened the first session and heard testimonies of the suspected terrorists in the criminal court in Aden on Wednesday, Yemen’s interim capital.

Legal experts in Yemen said the men accused of collaborating with the terrorist organisation could be sentenced to decades in prison or death.

The court adjourned the session to next week in order for those accused to be provided with legal representation in a trial that could be over within weeks.

"This is the first time the judiciary system in Aden start running sessions for terrorist elements especially those accused of being members of Al Qaeda since 2014. Most of the courts headquarters in Aden were destroyed in the last war with the Houthis,” Gyab Saleh a lawyer in the supreme court told The National.

The trial reflects a notable improvement in the situation in Aden where terrorist groups have previously threatened efforts by the Arab Coalition to bring stability to the city.

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Meanwhile, security forces in Marib province, 120 KM east of rebel-held Sanaa, seized on Wednesday a new shipment of weapons en route to Houthi militias in Sanaa, Ahmed Ayedh, a journalist based in the province told The National.

“The weapons included missile launchers, kalashnikovs and explosives, transferred on a big truck precisely locked to be hidden, but soldiers at the checkpoint received security information previously which enabled them to seize the weapons before their arrival to the Houthis in Sanaa," Mr Ayedh said.

Furthermore, on the ground, dozens of the Iran-backed rebels were killed on Wednesday as Yemeni forces targeted gatherings on the outskirts of Sanaa in their front towards the capital.

Aden has been the seat of the government of President Hadi since 2014, when Houthi fighters seized the capital, Sanaa. A Saudi-led coalition backing Mr Hadi has been at war with the Houthis since March 2015.