Middle East News
Yemeni court sentences six militants to death over attacks
Jul 13, 2009, 10:02 GMT
Sana'a, Yemen - A court in Yemen on Monday sentenced six al- Qaeda militants to death and 10 to jail terms of up to 15 years for a string of attacks, including one in which two Belgian tourists were killed last year.
The 16 - 11 Yemenis, four Syrians and a Yemeni with Saudi nationality - shouted slogans of defiance and prayed inside the holding cell of the state security court as each sentence was pronounced by presiding judge Muhssein Alwan.
When the trial began on March 11, prosecutors said the group was behind the attack on Belgian tourists in the south-eastern province of Hadhramout early last year. The defendants rejected the charges against them, with some saying they had confessed under duress and torture.
Two female tourists and three Yemeni drivers were killed in January 2008. when gunmen opened fire on their convoy near a historical site in Dowan valley, around 900 kilometres from the capital Sana'a. Another tourist was injured.
The group was also charged with carrying out a mortar attack in March, 2008 that targeted the US embassy in Sana'a but missed and instead hit an adjacent school, injuring three police officers and four girls.
Prosecutors said the group was also responsible for the mortar attack that targeted a residential compound housing US and Western citizens on April 6, 2008. No one was hurt in that attack.
The group had also fired two mortar shells at the Italian embassy on April 30, 2008 again without casualties, according to the charges.
The most recent attack blamed on the group was the suicide car bombing at the police complex in Sayoun city of Hadhramout last July that killed two policemen and wounded 18, including seven women.
The court heard that police had seized explosives and ammunition from the suspects, including 25 rockets, 43 bags of gun powder, six artillery shells, 13 mortar shells, two explosive vests.
They said the group acted under the instructions of the leading member of al-Qaeda in Yemen, Hamza al-Quaiti, who was shot dead in a police raid in Hadhramout last August.
Yemen allied itself with the US-led 'war on terror' following the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US.
The impoverished country on the south-western tip of the Arabian Peninsula has since pursued suspected members of al-Qaeda and put scores of them on trial.