Yemen convicts eight Britons of terrorism

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The Independent Online
EIGHT BRITONS were found guilty by a Yemen court yesterday of forming an Islamic terrorist gang to attack Western targets, including the British consulate.

The verdicts, after a six- month trial, led to protests from the British families of the defendants, who claimed some of the men had been tortured into confessing.

Five of the defendants, including a 17-year-old, received jail terms of between three and seven years. Three others were freed because they had already served the length of their sentences in custody. Last night they were said to be thinking of staying in Yemen to appeal against the convictions.

Relatives of the eight men, who are from London, Luton and Birmingham, were due to meet Peter Hain, a Foreign Office minister, last night. They have repeatedly criticised the Government for not doing enough to ensure a fair trial.

The Yemeni authorities claimed the men had been sent by Abu Hamza, a London-based Muslim cleric, to take part in a campaign of violence against the government. Two of those convicted, Mohamed Kamel, 17, and Mohsen Gailan, 18, are the son and godson of Mr Hamza.

Last night Mr Hamza, who is also accused of complicity in last year's kidnap of 16 Western tourists in Yemen, four of whom were shot dead during a rescue attempt, claimed the verdicts and sentences were retaliations against him. "The Yemeni regime is against Muslims ... I wouldn't be so naive as to ask the British Government to defend Muslims."

The men faced two charges: conspiracy to form an armed group and conspiracy to carry out terrorist activities. Kamel, found guilty on both counts, was sentenced to three years and two years. Malek Nasser, 26, and Gailan were both also found guilty on two counts and received seven years and three years. Sarmad Ahmed, 21, was jailed for five years and three years, with all sentences to be served concurrently.

Shahid Butt was convicted on the first count and sentenced to five years. Ghulam Hussein, 25, Shahzad Nabi, 20 and Ayaz Hussein, 26, were all freed because of time already served.

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