SANAA,(Reuters) – Six tribesmen went on trial in Yemen on Wednesday accused of kidnapping a group of Italian hostages last month.
Dressed in prison uniforms, the six men — all from the Zaidi tribe –admitted kidnapping the five Italians but denied second charge that they had formed an armed group.
The men face a possible death sentence if convicted. The trial was adjourned until next week.
The Italians, who were released unharmed earlier this month after almost a week in captivity, were the fourth set of Westerners seized in Yemen in less than two months.
The kidnappings have stoked fears of a return to the wave of abductions that swept the country several years ago.
Yemen has vowed to crack down on kidnapping and has already put to death two convicted hostage-takers this month.
The impoverished country hopes to boost its tourism, but attacks by al Qaeda linked militants and kidnappings by disgruntled tribesmen have scared off many travellers.
Scores of tourists and foreigners working in Yemen have been kidnapped over the past decade by tribesmen demanding better schools, roads and services or the release of jailed hostages.