Geneva – The undersigned organizations expressed their strong condemnation and denunciation of the serious approach by the Houthi group to implement the death sentence against nine defendants who are imprisoned in connection with the case of killing the former head of the Supreme Political Council, “Saleh Al-Sammad” and his guards, stressing that the Houthi group bears full responsibility for the lives of those people as it violated a set of international conventions, the most important of which are the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Fourth Geneva Convention and other covenants that criminalize any aggression or threat to the lives of individuals, in addition to criminalizing extrajudicial executions.
The organizations indicated in a statement issued today, Friday, that the procedures for examining the case before the Houthi courts, which proceeded in its various stages, were accompanied by deliberate and clear violations and breaches of the rights and freedoms of the convicted defendants: “Mohammed Quzi, Muhammad Noah, Ibrahim Akil, Ali al-Quzi, Abdul Malik Hamid, Moadh Abbas, Abdul Aziz Al-Aswad, Muhammad Al-Mashkhari. Starting with their arrest, the confiscation of their freedoms and their forcible disappearance in dislocated locations for many months without anyone knowing anything about their fate or whereabouts, including their relatives and family members, until this moment, with the prohibition and denial of any visit to them or enabling them to contact or inform any of their relatives or those whom they see about what they have been exposed to during those long months of inhumane treatment and material and moral abuse, which makes the results illegitimate and not legally invoked.
“SAM” indicated that the investigation and trial stages involved complex violations and serious violations of the rights of those people as the Specialized Criminal Prosecution of Al-Hodeida suddenly and without reasons deprived them of their right to defence.
As for the stage of the first instance trial and its attendant in the first trial sessions of their trial without providing a defense attorney and a violation of their right to present legal defenses and the necessary evidence, in addition to opening the door wide for the prosecution to read out its evidence in more than ten sessions that lasted more than six months until the prosecution decided that was enough and demanded that the case be reserved for judgment.
The human rights organizations indicated that the trial stage witnessed a continuous and unjustified harassing of the defendants and their defense representatives, and they were not enabled to have their right to defense. Rather, the Court of First Instance surprised them by saying that they had only three consecutive sessions in just two weeks, and when the defendants demanded the judge’s response as a result of that deliberate breach of the right of defense and as a result of his issuing a decision by changing the case and claiming facts and actions contrary to the indictment, he reserved the case for judgment before the accused and their defense representatives submitted any defense memorandum and were able to present their defense evidence.
Despite the petitions submitted by the nine defendants and their lawyers before the Court of Appeal and the essential aspects of defense they raised, and despite their request from the Court of Appeal to enable them to present their evidence confirming that they are innocents and they were framed, as well as presenting their defenses and refuting the prosecution’s evidence with their substantive requests aimed at revealing the truth. That court rejected these requests and rushed to shut down the door of justice in the face of the accused and their defense representatives and refrained from hearing their evidence and defenses, in addition to reserving the case for judgment without guaranteeing their right to defense and without providing them with a fair trial.
The appellate court also corrected the primary judgment and the indictment issued by the Public Prosecution from the shortcomings and invalidity that accompanied it as the court took on the task of correcting the case by adding facts and actions attributed to the accused and took control of them and contradictorily, combined the two opposites of the opponent and the judgment, and even stated in its judgment that it refrained from hearing their evidence and enabling them to defend themselves because it had formed its prior conviction of what had been obtained from the records of evidence during the period of the accused enforced disappearance and the confiscation of their freedom.
Abdul Majeed Sabra, the defendants’ lawyer, stated on his Facebook page, “I could not understand this phrase as a defense lawyer in this case, who knows many of its details and knows for sure that these defendants are innocent of any participation in the assassination of Saleh Al-Sammad and his guards. With this phrase, the specialized criminal prosecutor in Hodeidah called me over the phone to inform the relatives of the accused that they have the last opportunity to visit their accused relatives, as it is the last visit, and then the execution will be carried out next week.”
He added, “Of course, the right to visit in this case for these defendants is one of the rights that have been blatantly violated. Unlike all the defendants in this country, whether they are accused in state security cases or ordinary cases. The whereabouts of these defendants are unknown since their arrest until this moment, and when their relatives are allowed to visit them, they are brought from the place of their secret detention to the seat of the court where they are being tried, and visits by their relatives to them are rare. The controller of that visit is the Specialized Criminal Prosecution in Hodeida where their relatives visited them only a few visits. The first of those visits began in the middle of the trial before the Specialized Criminal Court of First Instance. 4/5/2021, and the third and last visit was scheduled to take place on Friday 17/9/2021. As the relatives of the accused were informed of this visit by us after the Public Prosecution Office communicated with us in this regard. The relatives of the accused had requested to postpone that visit for another day due to time constraints and the distance from Hodeida to Sana’a, but the prosecution insisted on its opinion that the visit should be on Friday and that it is their last visit, and then the execution will be carried out next week.”
He pointed out that “the relatives of the accused had to apologize for not attending, and their relatives feared that they will be executed before they were able to take a last look at the unjustly and aggressively convicted. They also consider these sentences mere orders to kill, nothing more and that their implementation is a full-fledged premeditated murder, so their relatives plead with all conscience in this country to stand with all the oppressed and stop this massacre of these innocents.
For its part, “SAM” was surprised by the record speed of the Supreme Court in approving the appeal ruling, which did not exceed 27 days, that is, as soon as the defendants were able to copy the appeal ruling and before submitting their appeals in cassation with appeal ruling. That was evidenced by the tweet posted by one of the most prominent authority figures on his account on Twitter, in which he indicated what the Supreme Court ruling will rule, and his eagerness and haste to implement the death sentence against the accused. He posted this on a date prior to the issuance of the Supreme Court ruling and officially sending it with the case file to the Public Prosecutor’s Office Then soon the posts began to be posted on the social media to declare that the death sentence will be carried out against the accused.
The “organizations” concluded in the statement by calling on the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Yemen, the UN envoy and the Secretary-General of the United Nations to move seriously and put pressure on the Houthi group to stop judicial rulings that violate international law, especially the recent death sentences, which included flagrant violations of fair trial guarantees and depriving individuals of providing sufficient defenses, which requires those courts to re-trial while ensuring that it is held within legal frameworks and allowing the accused to present their defenses and evidence without any derogation and enabling their lawyers to exercise their roles without any obstruction.
- SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties
- The Yemeni Coalition for Monitoring Human Rights Violations
- Rights Radar for Human Rights
- The American Center for Justice (ACJ)
- Abductees’ Mothers Association