Access is denied to Britons in Yemen

THE YEMENI authorities were back-tracking yesterday on a promised medical examination of five Britons and an Algerian, on trial in Aden for allegedly planning a bombing campaign.

In court, earlier in the week, the accused men shouted from the dock that they had been systematically tortured by methods that included electric shocks, beatings on the feet, suspension, sexual abuse and sleep deprivation.

Dr Saddaf Alam a GP from Manchester, who specialises in treating the after-effects of torture, expected to be allowed into Aden central prison after the judge in charge of the case said that a foreign medical specialist could be present while a Yemeni doctor examined the men. But Dr Alam said yesterday: "It does not look good. Everything the judge promised has been retracted."

At first, the prosecutor had seemed willing to let him see the group, arrested in Aden on 24 December, but later changed his mind. Dr Alam added: "If they have nothing to hide why are they doing this?"

Dr Alam said that Sirmad Ahmed, 21, and Mohsin Ghalain, 18, both students, appeared to have been singled out for especially harsh treatment. They told family members of other prisoners who visited them after the first day of their trial, that they had both been stripped naked and sexually abused. They said their thumbs "were pressed to a metal bar for 20 seconds at a time" and they were given electric shocks.

The investigators may have focused on the two because Mr Ghalain is the stepson of Abu Hamza al Masri - the militant Islamic sheikh from Finsbury Park, north London - and Mr Ahmed is believed by the Yemeni authorities to belong to Mr Masri's group, the Supporters of the Sharia (Islamic Law). During the trial Mr Ahmed said: "They have been treating us like animals."

The worst torture, according to the men's account, appears to have occurred in the first days after the men were arrested. They were forced to stand against a wall for five days and beaten if they fell asleep or moved. Malek Nasser Harhara, a student in computer studies from Birmingham, was trussed up with a bar under his knees and was beaten on the feet.

But the beatings have continued throughout their imprisonment. When the group went to sign confessions in the prosecutor's office, they say they were told: "If you change a word in the document, you will get worse than you got before." They say that each of the confessions is a combination of statements they were forced to sign earlier without reading, and in some cases they were blindfold at the time.

The five Britons say they were seen by a Yemeni doctor, but his examination consisted of asking them: "Are you OK?" Dr Alam suspects the investigators may want the worst signs of torture to disappear before they allow the prisoners to be seen by an independent medical expert.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
i100
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Toure could leave Manchester City in the summer, claims his agent
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
News
media
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior C++ Developer

£350 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Senior C++ Developer – L...

Part Time SEN Teacher

£120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you looking for a Part Time S...

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

Client Services Associate (MS Office, Analysis, Graduate)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Client Services Associate (Microsoft Office, Ana...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz