SANAA, Yemen (AP) – Houthi rebels in Yemen on Saturday executed nine people they said were involved in the murder of a senior rebel official in a Saudi-led coalition airstrike there. is over three years old.
The execution was carried out by firing squad and took place in public early in the morning in the rebel-held capital Sana’a. The Iranian-backed Houthis then distributed photos apparently showing the killings. Hundreds of people witnessed the execution, mostly Houthis and their supporters.
The executions took place despite repeated calls from human rights groups and lawyers to stop the killings and retry the suspects. They said the trial, which was held in a rebel-controlled court where the nine were found guilty and sentenced to death, was flawed.
The nine were among more than 60 people the Houthis accused of participating in the targeted assassination of Saleh al-Samad in April 2018. Former President Donald Trump has also been charged, according to court documents obtained by the Associated Press. Senior Western, Israeli and Arab Gulf officials have also been charged.
The Houthis have accused the Nine of spying for the Saudi-led coalition, which has been waging war against the rebels for years in an effort to bring the internationally recognized Yemeni government back to power.
Al-Samad, who served as chairman of the Houthi-backed political body, was killed along with six of his companions in a Saudi-led coalition airstrike in the coastal city of Hodeida.
The nine, including a 17-year-old boy, were arrested months after al-Samad’s murder. They were forcibly reported missing for months and held in secret locations where they suffered inhuman treatment, according to Abdel-Majeed Sabra, a Yemeni lawyer representing one of those executed.
The executions were also shown on large screens in Tahrir Square in Sana’a. The executions and public exposure sparked outrage across the country, including among relatives of the nine people and also in Sana’a, where people generally refrain from criticizing the rebels for fear of reprisals.
“I can’t believe what happened. It is madness and a crime, ”Abdel-Rahman Noah, a brother of one of the executed, told The Associated Press.
Another relative said she did not expect the Houthis to carry out the executions. “We were shocked. … We thought they were only threatening, ”she said in tears, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals from the rebels.
The rebels did not respond to requests for comment.
The nine wore a sky blue prison outfit with their hands tied behind their backs. Masked guards led them to an open area and forced them to lie on their stomachs. Another officer armed with a rifle shot them in the back.
One of the executed appeared frightened as he waited his turn to be shot; an armed Houthis was seen holding him tight, possibly so he wouldn’t fall.
Sabra, the lawyer, said the Houthis later allowed relatives to take the bodies for burials. Eight were taken to their hometown of Hodeidah while the ninth was buried in Sana’a.
Several human rights groups, including the United States-based American Center for Justice, which tracks human rights violations in Yemen, called on the UN on Friday to intervene to stop the executions. The groups said the trial had “included gross violations of guarantees for a fair trial and deprived individuals of sufficient defenses.”
Also on Saturday, at least six relatives were killed when a suspected Saudi-led coalition airstrike hit their vehicle in an area between Shabwa and Bayda provinces, government officials say. and tribal leaders.
There was no immediate comment from the Saudi-led coalition. Officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters and tribal leaders spoke anonymously, fearing reprisals.
Yemen has been in a civil war since 2014, when the Houthis swept much of the north and seized Sana’a, forcing the internationally recognized government into exile. The Saudi-led coalition went to war the following year alongside the government.
The stalemate in the conflict has killed more than 130,000 people and created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Magdy reported aboard the Geo Barents in the Mediterranean Sea.