Houthis making ‘mockery of justice’ after sentencing Yemeni mother on death row

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In a serious precedent, the first Yemeni woman faces a death penalty after a politicized judgement issued by a Houthi-controlled court in Sanaa in an unfair trial that lacked transparency and integrity.

Asmaa al-Omeissy, 22, was sentenced on charges of “conspiracy and espionage” in favor of one of the countries linked to the coalition fighting to support legitimacy in Yemen.

Omeissy, is currently in a Houthi prison in Sanaa facing death and a mother of two children. Observers say she is just of example of the many facing serious abuses and violations by the militia in using the judiciary to “settle political scores”, as per what Amnesty International commented on the verdict.

Yemeni Human rights advocates, civil and women organization have asked the UN and the international community to pressure the Houthi militias to suspend the unfair and politicized judgment against Omeissy and have asked for her immediate and unconditional release.

Omeissy was born on July 7, 1995 to a poor family. Her father hails from the al-Saddah district in Ibb in central Yemen while her mother us from Mukalla in the southeastern governorate of Hadhramaut. She studied until the ninth grade only, before being married while she was still a teenager where she bore two children; a boy and a girl.

Omeissy stayed with her first husband for eight years. Two years after her divorce, she got married to Khaled Salem Al-Saieri, a leader in the al-Qaeda militia in May 2011. She did know that her husband was a leader in the terrorist militia at time as the marriage took place in the traditional way through one of her friends. When Omeissy found out, she insisted to be granted divorce which happened in February 2016.

Arrest and torture

On October 5, 2016, the Houthi militias arrested Omeissy on her way from Mukalla to Sanaa with her father and two neighbors. They were charged of forming an espionage cell.

Their arrest was the beginning of a predicament that included forced disappearance, torture and eventually a death sentence after an extremely unfair trial.

Since being arrested, Omeissy was transferred to different Houthi prisons, tortured, beaten and questioned under duress at late hours of the night.

Amnesty International, quoting her father, said that Omeissy was beaten in front of him and was also forced to watch two other detainees in the case while being tortured and hanged to the roof of their wrists as they were kicked and punched all over their bodies.

Money for release

The militia released her father on June 26, 2017, after paying the Houthis a lot of money. Omeissy was kept in custody, though the prison’s management said more than once that she was pending release. At some point, they asked for 30,000 YR (about $ 70) to release her, but later reneged.

In January 30, 2018, a Houthi court suddenly issued a death sentence for Omeissy, Said Mahfouz al-Ruwaished, Ahmad Abdullah Bawazeer, and 15 years in jail for her (released) father on charges of “forming an espionage cell” in favor of one of the countries linked to the Arab coalition.

Omeissy was the one tried in her presence among those who were accused of forming the alleged cell. While the others who were arrested with her were released before issuing the verdict, as they had all paid bail to the Houthi militia.

She was also charged with an “offensive act” and sentenced to an additional punishment of 100 lashes.

According to the Amnesty international report, those who talked Omeissy in Sanaa’s central prison reported that “she was very depressed, and her imprisonment conditions are still very awful. She has to pay for her food, she cannot get any clothes or hygiene items, and her relatives do not visit her as they are afraid of being arrested.”

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