A Houthi court in the Yemeni capital Sanaa yesterday passed the death sentence on 19 senior army officers loyal to the UN-recognised government of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. Details were made public by the defendants' lawyer.
Abdul Basit Ghazi said on Facebook that the sentences were handed down by the Specialised Criminal Court. The lawyer pointed out that Vice President Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar and Defence Minister Muhammad Ali Al-Maqdashi are among those facing the death penalty.
According to Ghazi, the court found the defendants guilty of "impersonation crimes, aiding the enemy and inciting the Saudi-led coalition countries to launch a war against Yemen." He added that the judgement included the confiscation of their movable and immovable belongings. The lawyer explained that the court rejected the defence team's insistence that the criminal court does not have the authority to try military officials.
Both Al-Ahmar and Al-Maqdashi were sentenced in absentia. It is not clear whether the remaining defendants are held by the Houthis.
Earlier this month, the same court sentenced 35 pro-government parliamentarians to death on charges of "cooperating with and inciting Saudi Arabia to wage war on Yemen." Last Thursday, the UN envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, condemned the death sentences against the parliamentarians and called on the judiciary to distance itself from political conflict.
There was no immediate response from the defendants. The UN-recognised government does not recognise court judgements in Houthi-held areas.
For the sixth consecutive year, Yemen has witnessed violent conflict between pro-government forces supported by an Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia, and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels who control the capital.