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
Sport
sportGareth Bale, Carl Froch and Kelly Gallagher also in the mix for award
News
Japan's Suntory Beverage & Food has bought GlaxoSmithKline's Lucozade and Ribena
news
News
A tongue-eating louse (not the one Mr Poli found)
newsParasitic louse appeared inside unfilleted sea bass
Life and Style
Out and about: for 'Glee' character Bert Hummel, having a gay son was a learning curve
lifeEven 'cool' parents need help parenting gay teens
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Money
Anyone over the age of 40 seeking a loan with a standard term of 25 years will be borrowing beyond a normal retirement age of 65, and is liable to find their options restricted
propertyAnd it's even worse if you're 40
Arts and Entertainment
Perhaps longest awaited is the adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road with Brazil’s Walter Salles directing and Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart and Viggo Mortensen as the Beat-era outsiders
books
Arts and Entertainment
theatreSinger to join cast of his Broadway show after The Last Ship flounders at the box office
Life and Style
fashion'To start singing with Pharrell is not that bad, no?'
News
news
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

Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor

£30000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent: Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor - Ke...

Argyll Scott International: Risk Assurance Manager

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Hi All, I'm currently recruiting for t...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Ashdown Group: IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

£23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible