SANAA (AFP) – A trial opened Monday of the exiled brother of the leader of the Shiite rebellion in northern Yemen, who is accused of belonging to an armed group and perpetrating “acts of terrorism.”
The representative of the public prosecutor called for the maximum penalty against Yehia Badr Eddine al-Huthi, a member of parliament whose immunity was dropped two weeks ago to allow for the trial.
Huthi, who lives in exile in Germany and is being tried in absentia, faces the death sentence if found guilty, in line with Yemeni law. He has denied all the charges against him.
He is the brother of Abdul Malek al-Huthi, whose followers are embroiled in a war with government forces in the north of the country.
The government launched Operation Scorched Earth on August 11 with the aim of crushing the Zaidi rebels, known also as Huthis, in the Saada region and its surroundings.
Fighting between government forces and the Huthis, named after their late commander, Hussein Badr Eddin al-Huthi, has killed thousands since it erupted in 2004.
The authorities accuse the rebels of being supported by groups in Iran and of seeking to reinstate a form of clerical rule that ended in republican coup in 1962. The rebels deny both claims.
The defendant is accused of inciting the rebellion and of making contact with foreign parties.
But in a statement on a rebels’ website, Huthi denied all the charges against him.
“The accusations against me are nothing but lies,” Huthi said. “I do not recognise this dictatorial regime… or any measure it takes or this trial.”
The trial will resume on November 2 to give Huthi’s court-appointed lawyer time to look over the case and form a defence team.