3 Yemenis await death penalty in Houthi-held Sanaa

A Yemeni mother in Houthi (Ansarallah) custody is waiting to be put to death over allegations she spied for the UAE, AFP reported Thursday (February 15th).

A court in Houthi-held Sanaa handed down the death penalty to 22-year-old Asmaa al-Omeissy and two men on charges of "aiding an enemy country" after their enforced disappearance and months of torture, rights group Amnesty International said.

Yemeni activists and lawyers say they believe this is the first time a woman has been sentenced to death in a "state security" case, according to Amnesty.

The Specialised Criminal Court sentenced Omeissy, Saeed al-Ruwaished and Ahmed Bawazeer to death on January 30th, the Houthi-run Saba News Agency said.

They were found guilty of "communication and aiding the Arab alliance, which resulted in facilitating the targeting and seizure of strategic sites in Yemen".

They were also found guilty of "establishing an espionage network and recruiting agents to work on behalf of the UAE", 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.

Amnesty said the latest sentencing was "part of a wider pattern of the Houthis using the judiciary to settle political scores".

It said 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."

Amnesty has called for the sentences to be "quashed without delay".

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