Yemen court continues trial of Houthi leader

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden


Houthi supporters hold a portrait of militia leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi during a demonstration on February 27th, 2015 in Sanaa. Al-Houthi is being tried in absentia for communicating with Iran and staging a coup against the government. [Mohammed Huwais/AFP]

The Marib Military Court on Tuesday (August 25th) held its second hearing in the trial of Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi and 174 other Houthi leaders, with military court chief Aqeel Taj al-Din presiding.

Charges against the defendants in criminal case No. 4 of 2020 include communicating with Iran and staging a coup against the government.

They include forming a terrorist organisation (Ansarallah) with the help of Lebanese Hizbullah and Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and establishing illegal relations with a foreign country, Iran, with the intent of harming Yemen's military, political, diplomatic and economic status.

They also include providing Iran with information on the national security of Yemen and Gulf countries in return for weapons.

The military prosecution called for the defendants to be tried in absentia as fugitives from justice, per the code of civil procedure, after their names were published in three consecutive issues of the September 26 newspaper.

The court heard the claims filed by the lawyers of the plaintiff (Republic of Yemen) and decided to adjourn the hearing to September 25th.

Trial proceedings began July 7th with an initial hearing.

Iran's intervention in Yemen

It will be of critical importance to ensure that the case is complete, and that sufficient evidence is presented against the defendants, said Deputy Minister of Human Rights Nabil Abdul Hafeez.

"The Houthi coup, which received military, financial and media support from Iran, has led to the world's worst humanitarian tragedy," he told Al-Mashareq.

"Iran's intervention and its smuggling of weapons to Houthis has prolonged the war and constituted a violation of the UN Security Council Resolution 2216 on Yemen arms embargo," he said.

Political analyst Faisal Ahmed said the Iranian weapons shipments seized in recent years confirm Iran's role and its intervention in support of the Houthis.

"This has turned Yemen into an arena for chaos and violence against its own people and the peoples of regional countries," he said.

"The trial must include Iran's weapons shipments to Houthis, which were documented by international committees or seized by the Arab coalition and Yemeni armed forces," he said.

Arms funneled to the Houthis

Ahmed noted that Iran was supplying the Houthis with weapons well before the militia staged its 2014 coup in Sanaa.

Iran had started to support the Houthis with weapons in 2013 by supplying them with missiles transported aboard the Jihan 1 ship, he explained.

"Iran still supports the Houthis with weapons," he said, pointing out that the Arab coalition seized two weapons shipments in April and June in the Arabian Sea en route to the Houthis.

"Iran's relationship with the Houthis has enabled them to stage their coup and to continue their war for the sixth successive year," he added.

"This war has killed and wounded thousands of Yemenis, destroyed service sectors, stopped salaries, caused waves of displacement, and raised poverty and unemployment rates in Yemen," Ahmed said.

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