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Yemen puts 21 suspected Al Qaida members on trial

Accused, including three Jordanians and an Egyptian, plead not guilty

Gulf News

Sana’a: A special Yemeni tribunal on terrorism on Saturday began the trial of 21 suspected Al Qaida members, including three Jordanians and an Egyptian, accused of staging attacks on security forces.

The defendants, who appeared in four separate groups, one comprised of the Jordanians and Egyptian, have been charged with “belonging to a criminal gang linked to Al Qaida to carry out attacks against the state police and the army”, read the indictment at the hearing.

The accused pleaded not guilty and claimed their confessions were obtained “under duress and torture”.

The next hearing is set for January 26.

Last Monday, nine Yemenis accused of complicity in a May 2012 suicide bombing that killed 86 soldiers appeared in a similar court. Al Qaida had claimed responsibility for that attack.

Al Qaida is blamed for most of the violence unleashed in the past two years in Yemen.

The group has benefited from the weakening of the central government in Yemen, rocked by an uprising that led to the departure of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh in February 2012.