Houthi-controlled court sentences 16 Yemenis to death, 13 others to prison
A Sanaa-based attorney said that a Houthi-run court has condemned 16 Yemenis to death on grounds of working with the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen and the militia’s Yemeni opponents.
Abdul Majeed Sabra, a Yemeni lawyer who defends abductees held in Houthi prisons, said that the Specialized Criminal Court of First Instance has commuted the death sentences of 16 Yemenis, including seven held by the Houthis, and sentenced 13 others to prison terms of varying lengths after convicting them of communicating with the coalition and sending the locations of military facilities and leaders.
All 29 people hail from Saada, the Houthi movement’s heartland.
The same group of individuals was placed on trial for the first time in October, when a Houthi court accused them of communicating with the coalition and Yemeni governments between January 2014 and December 2020.
Sabra told Arab News that the ruling is the primary one and that he filed an appeal against it, adding that the convicts being detained by the Houthis are civilians, including teachers and farmers.
“The trial and appeal will go before the same court, and if it sustains the judgment, we will file an appeal with the Supreme Court,” he said.
A Yemeni government official and other activists have branded the charges as “malicious” and intended as retaliation against Yemenis who oppose the militia and the confiscation of their property in Houthi-controlled regions.
Faisal Al-Majidi, undersecretary of the Yemeni Ministry of Justice, accused the Houthis of using the court system to punish Yemeni government supporters and to legitimize rampant looting of the property of militia opponents.
“The court is used as a glove to settle rivalries with individuals who oppose the ideology of the Houthi militia, and their money is taken on the pretext of communicating with the aggressors,” Al-Majidi told Arab News.
“These acts of mass killing expose the Houthi group's criminal attitude against the Saada population.”
Since the first day of their military coup against the Yemeni government in late 2014, the Houthis have abducted hundreds of Yemenis, severely tortured them in jail, and charged them with collaborating with the Yemeni government and the coalition.
A large number of politicians, including the former president, top government officials, activists, journalists, and military and security personnel were also punished in absentia by the Houthis, who took their houses and property in Sanaa and the other places they control.
The province of Saada in Yemen’s north has been home to the Houthi militia for almost two decades, and it has been the site of six wars between the Yemeni government and the Houthis since 2004, when the Houthis initiated a military insurrection against the government.
Separately, the UN’s International Organization for Migration reported that 9,849 Yemeni families (59,094 individuals) had been displaced from their homes in war-torn provinces from Jan. 1 to Dec. 10, 2022, despite the significant cessation of hostilities over the past eight months as a result of the UN-brokered ceasefire.
Eighty percent of the displaced individuals in Marib, Lahj, Dhale and other Yemeni cities were forced from their homes owing to safety concerns, while 20 percent left for economic reasons, according to the organization.
More than 2 million people who have escaped Houthi repression and conflict in their homes reside in camps and buildings in the government-controlled city of Marib, which has the highest concentration of displaced persons in Yemen.