Houthi leaders on trial in Yemen military court

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden

Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi is seen on a screen as he gives a speech at a rally in Sanaa on September 10th, 2019. [Mohammed Huwais/AFP]

Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi is seen on a screen as he gives a speech at a rally in Sanaa on September 10th, 2019. [Mohammed Huwais/AFP]

The Marib Military Court on Tuesday (July 7th) began the trial of Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi and 174 other Houthi leaders on charges that include staging a coup against Yemen's government and establishing a relationship with Iran.

Charges include participating in the formation of an armed terrorist organisation, Ansarallah, with the help of military commanders from Lebanon's Hizbullah and Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

They include establishing illegal relations with a foreign country, Iran, with the intent of harming Yemen's military, political, diplomatic and economic status.

The trial opened Tuesday with military court chief Aqeel Taj al-Din presiding. Military prosecutor Abdullah al-Hadhri presented the bill of indictment against Abdul Malik al-Houthi and the other Houthi leaders.

The defendants are charged with communicating with Iran, and providing it with information on the national security of Yemen and Gulf states in return for arms.

They are charged with endangering Yemen's national security and seeking to undermine its national unity in an attempt to divide its land and people on regional and sectarian lines, and causing serious harm to national economy.

The military prosecution sought the harshest punishments against the defendants and demanded they return state funds looted from the Central Bank.

The court notified the defendants of the trial through an announcement in official media, and ordered them to appear before the September 25th hearing.

If the defendants fail to appear in court, they will be tried in absentia.

Working for Iran's interests

The trial should have taken place years ago, lawyer and rights activist Abdul Rahman Barman told Al-Mashareq.

He called on the court and the Yemeni government to take additional steps to help ensure justice is carried out, including on the diplomatic and military levels.

"These steps include issuance of arrest warrants for the defendants via the Interpol, especially as some of them live in or visit other countries," he said.

"In addition, Yemen's embassies in those countries should engage in diplomatic activities to help contain the activities of those leaders," he said.

"The trial procedures and preparation of a long bill of indictment mean that the prosecution was able to collect documents and evidence that incriminates them for high treason," political analyst Faisal Ahmed told Al-Mashareq.

This will make it clear the defendants have been "working for Iran's interests without any regard to the interests of their people", he said.

By propagating the doctrine of Wilayat al-Faqih (Guardianship of the Jurist), which calls for allegiance to Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, he said, "the Houthis are leading Yemenis to death".

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