Yemen killers get death penalty
Thursday 06 May 1999
Of the five men in custody, two Yemenis and an Algerian were sentenced to death, while another has been sentenced to 20 years in prison. The remainder of the defendants, most of whom were tried in absentia, have been acquitted.
The Britons killed were Margaret Whitehouse, 52, a teacher from Hampshire, Ruth Williamson, 34, an NHS training consultant from Edinburgh, and Peter Rowe, 60, a maths lecturer from Durham. The fourth victim, Andrew Thirsk, 35, had emigrated to Australia from Surrey.
Since last August armed kidnap in Yemen has carried a mandatory death penalty in an attempt to discourage casual kidnapping of foreigners by tribesmen for ransom. The leader of the kidnappers, 28-year-old Zein Al- Abdeen Al-Mehdar - who claimed he seized the tourists to avenge the deaths of Iraqi civilians in last December's US and British air strikes - called on Arabs to rise up and confront the Western powers. The only dialogue should be with bullets, he was quoted as saying shortly before the verdict was announced.
Although the men now face execution by firing squad, they have a possible avenue of reprieve in a pardon from the relatives of those they are convicted of killing. Under Islamic law, or sharia, the next of kin has the right to spare the life of a condemned person, with "blood money" usually being paid as compensation.
Laurence Whitehouse, whose wife was killed in the 29 December rescue attempt - staged against the wishes of the British government - said he disagreed with the death sentences and had hoped for long prison sentences instead. "Margaret and I were both opposed to death penalties. We think it is immoral. No one has the right to take anyone else's lives. I am against the death penalty, but I do hope that appropriate justice is given to the people involved in taking us hostage and killing four innocent tourists. I was hoping for the longer prison sentences, as would Margaret have been.
"Most things are more appropriate than taking people's lives, so a sentence of 20 years does seem much more appropriate than the death sentence."
Lawyers in Aden believe the convicted men are likely to be quietly released once the publicity has died down. Although capital punishment for non- political crimes is commonplace in Yemen, lawyers say the price for the government could be too high if it allows the executions. Yemeni Islamists have warned of reprisals and security at Western embassies has been tightened.
Meanwhile, the trial resumes in Aden today of eight British Muslims accused of forming an armed gang and possessing explosives. The Yemeni prosecution has repeatedly tried to link them to the kidnappers now sentenced, but much of the case rests on confessions the Britons say were extracted under torture.
- 1 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 2 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 4 Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
UK weather: Warning for more snow and ice as freezing temperatures and gales hit Britain
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations
AirAsia flight QZ8501 missing: Search for plane carrying 162 passengers from Indonesia to Singapore suspended overnight
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Millions of Britons struggling to feed themselves and facing malnourishment
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Nigel Farage: Ukip leader named 'Briton of the year' by The Times
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...
£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...
£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have previous experience...