SANAA (AFP) – Ten alleged Al-Qaeda members shouted defiance on Sunday when they went on trial over an April 2008 explosion near the offices of a Canadian energy company in the Yemeni capital Sanaa.
The defendants, aged between 25 and 40 years of age, refused to answer questions from Judge Mohsen Alwan, who adjourned the hearing until Monday in order to interrogate them in pairs.
It is alleged that the group was behind an explosion in the Hadda district of the capital on April 10, 2008 near the offices of Nexen Inc. Based in Calgary, Alberta, Nexen says it operates the biggest oil project in Yemen.
“It’s an illegitimate court. The end of the regime is near,” shouted one of the defendants, Mohammed Ahmed Badr, from the dock. “We are jailed in an American prison and this is an American court.”
The defendants also alleged that they had been tortured while in detention.
Besides the explosion, in which no-one was hurt, the defendants are accused in connection with attacks on the military, security services, a currency exchange bureau in the western port city of Al-Hudaydah, and the 21-day kidnapping of the son of a Yemeni tribal leader.
Situated at the strategic southern tip of the Arabian peninsula, Yemen — ancestral home of Osama bin Laden and scene of anti-government protests in recent days — has been fighting Al-Qaeda insurgents in its south and east.