Source: AFP, 15/06/2010
SANAA — Two alleged Al-Qaeda members went on trial in Yemen on Tuesday accused of being part of an armed gang that killed nine people including military and security officials.
Mansour Saleh Salem, 18, and Mubarak Ali Hadi al-Shabwani, 23, who were arrested on December 11 in eastern Marib province, appeared before a Sanaa court that specialises in terrorism cases.
The pair are being tried for "participating in an armed gang which carried out criminal actions against military and security officials and members of the armed forces," according to the charges read out in court.
"The defendants used arms to resist men of the public authority who were responsible for persecuting and arresting them in Al-Shabwan in Marib province, killing two soldiers and a civilian and wounding five other soldiers," the prosecutor's statement said.
The two men were also accused of killing three officials along with their two companions while they were driving on November 3 in the southern province of Hadramut.
In addition, the prosecution alleges they killed one soldier during clashes with the Yemeni army when they attacked an army truck carrying weapons and ammunition in July.
However, the defendants denied the charges.
"Those are lies, we have nothing to do with all this, and this trial is null and void," Shabwani said.
The next hearing is due to take place on June 19.
Yemen, the ancestral land of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, has also witnessed a number of attacks claimed by Al-Qaeda on foreign missions, tourist sites and oil installations.
In October 2000, Al-Qaeda militants on a small explosives-packed boat blew a hole in an American warship, the USS Cole, in the southern port of Aden, killing 17 US sailors.