Britons `forced to sign confessions' in Yemen

ALL FIVE Britons being held in Yemen over allegations of a bomb plot have been forced to sign confessions, their families said yesterday.

A spokesman for the families, Rashad Yaqoob, told a press conference he had received the information from an unidentified source in Yemen.

The Foreign Office was last night unable to confirm the reports, as the British consul in Yemen has been allowed only a brief visit to four of the men. The fifth is a dual citizen and considered a Yemeni national by the authorities.

The lawyer representing the men in Yemen has not been able to meet his clients despite having a written order allowing him to do so.

The developments come amid mounting speculation that the three Yemeni gunmen arrested for the kidnap of 16 Western tourists last month are due to stand trial within the next 48 hours.

Mr Yaqoob denied the five Britons - Shahid Butt, 33, Malik Nasser Harhra, 26, Samad Ahmed, 21, all from Birmingham, Ghulam Hussein, 25, from Luton, and Mohsin Ghalain, 18, from London -.were linked to a bomb plot. But he did confirm that Mr Ghalain was the stepson of Abu Hamza, an imam based in London who openly promotes the overthrow of the Yemeni state.

The fury of the families contrasted sharply with the experience of Katherine Brooke, wife of John Brooke, kidnapped by Yemeni tribesmen last week.

"I am overwhelmed by all the encouraging messages I have received from the public and for the tremendous help of the Foreign Office and the support of the local police," she said yesterday.

Mr Brooke has told his company by telephone that he is being well treated by the tribesmen.

The families of the five Britons in custody said the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, had failed to contact them since their relatives' arrest before Christmas.

Questions about possible links with Sheikh Hamza and his group, the Supporters of Shariah, brought angry shouts from the floor, but Monica Davis, wife of Ghulam Hussein, said she had very little knowledge of the cleric.

"I don't know much about him or his group, but I have done my own research and if there were any links with him and terrorism he would have been shut down by the CIA or MI5," she said.

The families warned there would be blood on the streets if any of the men were executed by the Yemenis.

The Yemeni lawyer acting for the men, Badr Basunaid, said yesterday the police were still refusing him access to his clients, despite obtaining written permission from the Chief Prosecutor of Aden.

"I have no access, it is impossible for me to do my job properly," he said. "There is no reason why I should not have access, but it means that things are now going very slowly."

Yesterday Foreign Office sources said they were investigating reports that the trial might start within 48 hours of three men arrested by security forces after a shoot-out with kidnappers. The hostage-taking led to the murder of three British tourists.

While there are other reports that the trial will not begin until the end of Ramadan - likely to be 18 or 19 January - the British ambassador in Yemen, Vic Henderson, dispatched his vice-consul from the capital, Sanaa, to Aden yesterday to investigate the claims.

Mr Basunaid expressed concern over the possibility of such a trial, saying that those defendants might have been forced to make claims against his own clients.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?