Houthi-run court in Yemen upholds five-year sentence against actress

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A court run by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia on Sunday upheld a five-year sentence against an actress and one of her companions who were convicted of committing an indecent act and having drugs in her possession, her lawyer said.

The arrest of Entisar al-Hammadi and the three other women in February 2021 — as well as the court proceedings against them — have been widely criticized by international rights groups. The case has mirrored widespread Houthi repression and crackdown on women in areas they control in war-torn Yemen.

Al-Hammadi and one of the women were first sentenced in November 2021 to five years. The other two were handed one and three years in prison, respectively.

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The Court of Appeals in the Houthi-held capital of Sanaa upheld the sentences against al-Hammadi and Yousra al-Nashri who was also handed a five-year sentence, according to lawyer Khalid al-Kamal, who represents all four women.

Al-Hammadi, who is also a model, was born to a Yemeni father and an Ethiopian mother. She has worked as a model for four years and acted in two Yemeni soap drama series in 2020. She was the sole breadwinner for her four-member family, including her blind father and a disabled brother.

Human Rights Watch has previously criticized the court proceedings as “marred with irregularities and abuse.” It said the Houthis confiscated al-Hammadi’s phone and “her modeling photos were treated like an act of indecency.”

Yemen has been convulsed by civil war since 2014 when the Houthis seized the capital of Sanaa.

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