Lawyers seek to put ousted Saleh on trial
On March 18, 2011, as people exited from Friday prayers near Change Square in Sana’a, Yemeni security set fire to a wall to prevent protestors from continuing their efforts. At the same time, forces opened fire on the protestors, leaving approximately 50 dead and even more injured.
On the list of new defendants presented by the lawyers are ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh and some of his close aides believed have participated in trying to squash the 2011 uprising.
Faisal Al-Majidi, a member of the prosecuting team representing the families of the victims, told the Yemen Times that the immunity from prosecution granted to Saleh doesn’t prevent the launching of an investigation or bringing him to trial.
“U.N. Charters don’t allow human rights-related crimes to be exempt from prosecution,” he said. “We will see in the next days the seriousness of the Yemeni judiciary in dealing with this issue in a fair and effective way.”
Al-Majidi said security didn’t cooperate with the prosecution to accelerate the trial procedures.
“Security wants to dilute this issue to exonerate the defendants from their crimes,” he said.
Lawyer Abdul-Jalil Shuja’a Al-Din said the Yemeni judiciary will be reluctant to deal with this matter.
“According to the constitution and law, it’s the right of the public prosecutor to call anybody inside Yemen if he has enough evidence for any crime,” he said.
Mohammed Saeed Al-Sharabi, a pro-democracy protestor and a witness to the widely condemned incident, played down the importance of the trial, describing it as a “farce.”
“Many revolutionaries are completely unsatisfied with this trial. How are they conducting a trial while the main defendants are released?” he said.
Al-Sharabi said he doesn’t trust the Yemeni, calling it an “unfair judiciary.” However, he also said the bloods of the martyrs will not be wasted.
“Yemenis will not forget this crime that shocked the world,” he said.
Letta Tayler, senior Yemen researcher at Human Rights Watch, stated last September that “The previous government’s investigation of the Friday of Dignity killings was deeply flawed and may have been a brazen attempt to shield government officials from prosecution.”