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
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

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
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