Rights group Amnesty International stated on Thursday that a Yemeni mother in Houthi rebel custody is waiting to be executed over allegations she spied for the United Arab Emirates.
The Amnesty has anounced that a court in rebel-held in Sanaa handed down the death penalty to Asmaa al-Omeissy (22-year-old) and 2 men on charges of “aiding an enemy country” after their enforced disappearance and months of torture. While, Yemeni activists and lawyers believed that this is the first time a woman has been sentenced to death in a “state security” case.
UAE is a pillar of the Arab-led military coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015 with the aim of rolling back rebel gains and restoring the ousted government, but the Iran-backed Houthis militias have consolidated their control of Sanaa in recent months, gunning down one-time ally Ali Abdullah Saleh and cracking down on opponents.
The Specialised Criminal Court sentenced Omeissy, Saeed al-Ruwaished and Ahmed Bawazeer to death on January 30, the rebel-run Saba News Agency said. They were found guilty of “communication and aiding the Arab coalition, which resulted in facilitating the targeting and seizure of strategic sites in Yemen”, and guilty of “establishing an espionage network and recruiting agents to work on behalf of the United Arab Emirates”, Saba said.
Omeissy’s 50-year-old father Matir received a 15-year prison sentence for an “indecent act” — allowing his daughter to be in the same car as the male defendants. Asmaa, who has two children, is the only one of the three still in custody. The men were able to pay bail and flee to parts of Yemen not controlled by the rebels, Amnesty said, accusing the Houthis of engaging in “extortion”.
In addition, Journalists and activists have previously been sentenced to death by Houthi-run courts on charges of spying for coalition leader Saudi Arabia.
The latest sentencing was “part of a wider pattern of the Houthis using the judiciary to settle political scores”, Amnesty said. Adding that the defendants were subjected to “enforced disappearance, cut off from the outside world, and secretly moved from one facility to the other.
“They were held in squalor in pre-trial detention for months, extorted for money, subjected to continuous humiliation and extreme physical abuse, and denied basic rights including legal counsel and family visits.”
The Rights group Amnesty International has called for the sentences to be “quashed without delay”.