Economy |

Houthis seek status, funds through sham trials

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden

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UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres meets with Yemen's President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi at the UN in New York on September 27th. [Don Emmert/AFP]

A court controlled by the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah) recently handed down harsh judgements against senior Yemeni officials that included the confiscation of their funds, local media reported.

A Sanaa court on December 31st issued a death sentence against President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, Prime Minister Moeen Abdulmalik and former Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani, charging them with "high treason".

Along with the death sentences, the court ordered the "confiscation of their assets and property inside and outside Yemen", local media reported.

Experts told Al-Mashareq this move lacks legal basis and is merely a ploy on the part of the Houthis to justify their appropriation of resources.

By taking this step, the Houthis seek to plunder the assets and properties of these officials and to show they are a "legitimate authority" in Yemen, human rights activist Abdul Rahman Barman told Al-Mashareq.

The Houthis do not have the right to issue such rulings, he said, as their courts "have no legal standing or jurisdiction" and rely on the use of force.

These trials, the systematic plunder of state funds and the looting of aid, impoverish Yemen and stymie international efforts to provide relief to the Yemeni people and alleviate their suffering, he said.

These actions have no legal grounds and are undertaken purely "to enrich the group's leaders and supporters", Barman said.

They are part of "an organised effort to impoverish Yemenis and place the reins of power in the hands of the [Houthis], so that whoever wants to get out of the cycle of poverty and suffering has to work for them", he said.

Arbitrary legal action

This kind of arbitrary legal action makes it clear that the Houthis "do not understand the constitution and laws", Deputy Minister of Human Rights Nabil Abdul Hafeez told Al-Mashareq.

"The Houthis do not have a legal standing to conduct these trials," he said, noting that their main goal appears to be to lay claim to money and property.

"Were it not for these properties and funds, the sentences would not have been issued and these trials would not have taken place in the first place," he said.

The issuance of these sentences against state leaders is part of a process of plundering property "to widen the dispute with the legitimate government", political analyst Faisal Ahmed told Al-Mashareq.

By thwarting efforts to end the conflict, the Iran-backed militia has succeeded in widening the segment of the population that is living in poverty, thus benefiting from the aid provided by relief organisations and distributing it to its supporters or fighters.

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