Source: AFP. 05/10/2010
ADEN, Yemen — A Yemeni judge was threatened on Monday by Al-Qaeda suspects at the start of their trial in Mukalla in the eastern Hadramut province, a judicial source told AFP.
The threats were made against presiding judge Abdu Ali al-Awashi, at a court specialising in terrorism cases, where 16 alleged members of the jihadist network went on trial charged with forming an armed group, and in some cases, joining Al-Qaeda in Iraq.
"You will meet the same fate as those who plotted against the jihadists," one defendants during the closed hearing, the source said.
"We are certain we will be declared innocent, and then we will hold you to account outside the court," said another.
Because of the threats, which were also directed at the jury, the judge adjourned the trial for two weeks without specifying an exact date.
Shortly before Monday's hearing, three other Al-Qaeda suspects, one of them in absentia, went on trial at the same court accused of forming an armed group with the intention of attacking vital facilities, the defence ministry's news website sep26.net reported.
One of the two defendants present, Salem Omar Brik, is charged with criminal association with the intention of attacking military, security and police targets as well as oil companies in eastern Yemen, it said.
Sanaa has intensified its operations against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), as the number of attacks claimed by the jihadist network, especially in south and east Yemen, has risen.