UK protests over Yemen jailings

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The Independent Online
BRITAIN HAS lodged a formal complaint with the Yemeni government after it emerged that two of the Britons convicted on terrorism charges are to remain captive in Aden despite orders from the trial judge that they were free to go.

Shazad Nabi, 20, and Ayaz Hussein, 26, from Birmingham, were told they would be released from prison after their conviction on Monday for conspiring to form an armed gang. Judge Omar Mohammed Jamal sentenced them to the eight months that they had already served on remand.

The only other Briton who was in effect free to go was Ghulam Hussain, 25, from Luton. He was also sentenced to time already served, but had been on bail since May on health grounds.

Yesterday the Foreign Office said it had ordered Britain's ambassador, Vic Henderson, to the Yemeni capital, Sana, to protest to the country's President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, after it emerged that the state prosecutors in the case were to appeal because the sentences were "too lenient". The move means the men cannot leave jail until the conclusion of the appeal, which could last months.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "This is against natural justice and does not even comply with the Yemeni law.

"In effect we have asked Mr Henderson to complain personally in the strongest possible terms." The high-profile complaint is the first visible sign of impatience from the Foreign Office in an affair that stretches back to the fatal hostage crisis in December last year. It comes after Tony Blair wrote to the Yemeni President concerning the plight of the eight men, who claimed they were tortured into confessing.

The diplomatic move is likely to be welcomed by campaigners seeking to secure the release of the other jailed men, Shahid Butt, Malik Nasser, Samad Ahmed, all from Birmingham, and Mohsin Ghalain and Mustafa Kamal, from London, who received sentences of up to seven years.