Source: Yemen Times
Fawwaz Saleh, an engineer in Amran who was sentenced to death on Sunday by an improvised tribal court suspected to be affiliated with the Houthis, has had his death sentence suspended, sources told the Yemen Times.
On Monday, Al-Masdar Online quoted “local sources” as saying that “a ‘Houthi’ tribal court sentenced an engineer to death in a rushed hearing session on Sunday.”
The sentencing of 36-year-old engineer Fawwaz Saleh, who works in Amran Cement Factory, followed his alleged murder of a colleague at work, inside the factory.
After the protest of Mowatanah (Citizenship), a human rights organization in Sana’a, the sentence has been suspended.
Abdulrasheed Al-Faqeeh, the director of Mowatanah organization, told the Yemen Times that after the organization’s opposition to Saleh’s death sentence, “we were informed by the Houthis that the death penalty was stopped.”
The suspension of Saleh’s death sentence was confirmed by Abdullateef Al-Marhabi, a journalist in Amran, and Waheed Al-Rubati, whose father works at Amran Cement Factory and who lives in the same neighborhood as the convicted Saleh.
“Saleh is now awaiting a final decision regarding his case,” Al-Rubati said.
Al-Rubati added that Saleh was taken to a Houthi office, the “Office of Ansar Allah,” where people go to request judgments, mediation and decisions in cases of conflict.
“They have this specialized office for releasing judgments and resolving citizen’s issues since the courts often delay people’s cases. Many residents seek their help,” he said.
Jalal Al-Ashmoori, a resident in Amran and a university teacher in computer programming and engineering, told the Yemen Times that “courts” run by the Houthis do exist in Amran, often located in ordinary houses.
Al-Faqeeh said that Saleh is still being detained in a stadium in Amran after he had first been held in a school which the Houthis were using as a prison.
“Houthis run make-shift prisons in Amran and the areas they control,” he stated.
Mohammed Hizam, deputy head of the Public Relations Department at the Interior Ministry, affirmed Al-Faqeeh’s statements, saying “Amran is under the control of Houthis. We have no business there now. We can do nothing. They have courts in the areas they control. They also have prisons there.”
Ali Al-Imad, a member of the Houthis, denied the existence of an official Houthi court system in Amran saying, “yes, perhaps in Sa’ada we have courts due to a lack of government presence there, however, in Amran we have none and this judge [that delivered Saleh’s death sentence] was not assigned by the Houthis.”
Ahmad Al-Bukhaiti, a member of the Houthi’s political office, also denies the existence of Houthi-run courts in Amran, explaining that only tribal negotiations are taking place in the governorate. “There are no official courts run by Houthis. All we do is tribal arbitration and mediation to avoid revenge and wars among tribes,” said Al-Bukhaiti.
He added that the Houthis do not use any of the sites owned by the government in Amran governorate. “After the president’s speech [on July 23] to the citizens of Amran and the return of many to Amran, everything returned to its pre-war status,” said Al-Bukhaiti.
Al-Faqeeh highlights conflicting information regarding the courts in Amran, telling the Yemen Times that “the Houthis say that the judge was a tribal judge assigned by the locals, the locals say that he was assigned by the Houthis.”
Abdurrahman Barman, a lawyer based in Sana’a, said that according to Yemeni and international law as well as the country’s constitution, the Yemeni judicial system is the only one allowed to deliver court decisions, especially when it comes to criminal cases.
“Tribes can only have their own agreements and arbitrary judgments regarding commercial and civilian cases, delivering decisions that are agreed upon by both sides,” he said.
Death sentence of Fouad Qasim
According to a statement published by the Mowatanah organization, a resident in Sa’ada governorate, Fouad Qasim, was executed in Amran on August 5.
Al-Ashmoori told the Yemen Times that Qasim was sentenced to death in Sa’ada by a tribal court allegedly run by the Houthis. Yet, his execution, which was documented in a video that spread quickly through social media websites, was implemented in Amran.
“The sentencing occurred in Sa’ada, but the execution was in Amran, where Qasim is originally from,” Al-Marhabi said.
According to Al-Ashmoori, the sentence followed Qasim’s alleged murder of a father and three children, all belonging to the same family.
Ahmed Al-Bukhaiti, a member of the Houthi’s political office, commented on the execution of Qasim, saying that his father handed him over to tribal authorities in Sa’ada to avoid having his three other children killed as retribution.
“Everything was done according to tribal customs. Houthis had no hand in killing him. His father signed those documents to deliver him to the other family whose father and children were killed. They were the ones who killed him in a tribal agreement,” said Al-Bukhaiti.
Al-Faqeeh stated that because Qasim was not tried by the government, he has been executed for a crime that “only a rigorous court decision can decide on, sentencing him for being guilty or not.”
According to Al-Faqeeh, Qasim “was supposed to be handed over to the government’s judicial authorities and not be executed.”