Court restricts reporting of trial `to guarantee justice'

A YEMENI court yesterday imposed restrictions on reporting of the trial of five Britons and an Algerian in Aden. The judge said he had taken the decision to "guarantee the course of justice", writes Patrick Cockburn.

The trial was later adjourned until Monday to give the prosecution and defence more time to call on witnesses. However, defence lawyers had reportedly claimed they needed at least a month to prepare their case.

The prosecutor-general had requested reporting restrictions because of the publication of "inaccurate and false reports related to the trial".

Earlier, a correspondent of the Yemeni paper al-Ayyam was detained after the newspaper published a full transcript of the first day of the proceedings last Wednesday.

Stephen Jakobi, of the legal rights group Fair Trials Abroad, said that the restrictions were "a clear breach of international law", and that the proceedings were turning into "an empty show trial with no pretensions to justice", because the defence lawyer has no access to prosecution documents or lists of witnesses.

The defendants arrived at the courthouse in an armoured truck accompanied by a convoy of military jeeps. The building was surrounded by more than 200 policemen armed with AK-47s. The suspects were flanked by soldiers as they entered the courtroom, which was packed with members of their families, foreign and local journalists, diplomats and lawyers.

Police have charged the six men with associating with armed groups, forming a plan to commit murder and destruction, and possessing weapons. The prosecution strategy is to show that the defendants in Aden, Abu Hamza in London and the kidnappers of 16 tourists, four of whom were killed, formed a closely coordinated conspiracy. The defendants have denied all charges.

Prosecution witnesses said the Britons were first suspected when they fled a checkpoint in their car. The police said it was later found abandoned after a high-speed chase, but with explosives, mines and a rocket launcher in the boot.

The defendants, who say they have been tortured, shouted from the dock that they had not been examined by an independent medical expert. The court yesterday approved a request by the defence lawyer to allow a British doctor to examine the defendants.

Sirmad Ahmed, one of the accused, said: "We are being stitched up and framed and what is the British Government doing about it?" Malek Nasser Harhara, another defendant, denied that any weapons were in the car and said the account of a high-speed chase was exaggerated.

The government had announced that Mohammed Mustapha Kamil, the son of Abu Hamza al-Masri, the militant Islamic cleric based in London, and two other Britons arrested last week in Yemen would join the defendants in the dock, but they did not appear. A security source said they were still under interrogation.

One of the three Germans kidnapped by Yemeni tribesmen on Tuesday has been freed. The 30-year-old aid worker was taken along with her mother and brother who were visiting her.

t Clare Short, the International Development Secretary, pleaded for people not to make accusations against the Yemeni authorities which would harm the Britons' case or increase tension.

"There have been some very extreme statements about what is going on," she told Radio 4's Today programme. "I do caution those who care about these men and their families not to say crazy things. The situation is very serious; the charges are very serious. We must make sure they have proper representation and that they have a fair trial."

Suggested Topics
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
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

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform