Assassination of Aden University dean sparks outcry in Yemen

An image of Dr. Naja Ali Moqbel, the dean of the Faculty of Sciences shared by Yemeni activists on Twitter.
Updated 17 May 2018

Assassination of Aden University dean sparks outcry in Yemen

  • The nation was shocked by the assassination of Dr. Naja Ali Moqbel, the dean of the Faculty of Sciences, and her son Sameh and granddaughter, after a gunman stormed her home
  • The university president had convened an emergency meeting in the wake of the killings, appointing a task force mandated to press for a timely and transparent investigation of the case

ADEN: The University of Aden has condemned the murder of its dean of sciences and her son and granddaughter, who were killed in her apartment in the de facto government capital of Yemen.
“The academic community, the city of Aden, and all of Yemen were shocked by the assassination of Dr. Naja Ali Moqbel, the dean of the Faculty of Sciences, and her son Sameh and granddaughter, after a gunman stormed her home,” a statement said Wednesday.
Neighbours of Dr. Moqbel in the western Inma residential district managed to catch the gunman and the security services arrived soon after, according to the statement.
It said the university president had convened an emergency meeting in the wake of the killings, appointing a task force mandated to press for a timely and transparent investigation of the case.
Yemen’s prime minister, Ahmad bin Dagher, condemned the “despicable” killings of Dr. Moqbel, her son Sameh and granddaughter Lian, in a statement carried by the state-run Saba news agency.
He said President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi had issued directives for security agencies to merge under the umbrella of the Interior Ministry to facilitate information sharing.
Abdelaziz bin Habtour, the prime minister of the so-called Houthi government and the former governor of Aden, also condemned the assassination.
“The academic community has lost a distinguished colleague, one of the best members of the Faculty of Science at the University of Aden,” he said, highlighting her scholarly contributions and books in a statement carried by the Houthi-controlled Saba news agency.

Several others took to social media condemning the killings and paying tribute to the family. 

The southern port city has also seen a string of assassinations against religious figures in recent weeks.
Aden has served as the base of Yemen’s internationally recognized government since Iran-backed Houthi militia overran the capital Sanaa in 2014.
And in January, southern separatists backed by the UAE attacked government loyalist forces in Aden, overrunning the city. The government was forced to hunker down until Saudi and Emirati envoys arrived to quell the infighting.


UN criticizes Iraq trials of Daesh ‘members’, including human shields

Updated 17 sec ago

UN criticizes Iraq trials of Daesh ‘members’, including human shields

  • In some cases, the individuals had provided basic support services, such as selling vegetables or preparing meals
  • One young man was sentenced by the Karkh juvenile court in Baghdad to 15 years in prison for admitting that he acted as a human shield, along with other family members

GENEVA: The United Nations raised “serious concerns” on Tuesday about the trials of hundreds of alleged Daesh members in Iraq, some of whom merely prepared meals, offered medical services or even acted as human shields for the extremist group.

Iraq has processed thousands of cases under its anti-terrorism law — including of detainees from outside the Middle East transferred from neighboring Syria — in the aftermath of a 2014-17 war against Daesh militants.

The joint report by the United Nations Human Rights Office in Iraq (UNAMI) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) covers 794 trials carried out between May 1, 2018 and Oct. 31, 2019, OHCHR spokesman Jeremy Laurence told a news briefing in Geneva.

“(The report) raises serious concerns about unfair trials placing defendants at a serious disadvantage,” he said, adding that 28 of the cases in the UN report involved foreign defendants from 11 different countries.

These were from: France, Iran, Egypt, Belgium, Russia, Sweden, Turkey, Syria, Armenia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

In some cases, the individuals had provided basic support services, such as selling vegetables or preparing meals for members of the ultra-hard-line extremist group, the report said.

One young man, a 14-year-old at the time, was sentenced by the Karkh juvenile court in Baghdad to 15 years in prison for admitting that he acted as a human shield, along with other family members, to protect fighters from an air strike, it said.

In another case, the defendant, who was a pharmacist, was given a life sentence in Mosul for providing wounded Daesh members with medical services.

“Prosecutions under the anti-terrorism legal framework... focused on ‘membership’ of a terrorist organization without sufficiently distinguishing between those who participated in serious crimes and those who joined ISIL Daesh out of perceived necessities of survival or under coercion,” the report said.

In 109 of the cases studied by the United Nations, death sentences were handed down, Laurence said. In one of those cases, the defense lawyer was appointed on the day of the trial, had not met his client beforehand and stayed silent throughout.

Defendants or defense lawyers alleged torture or ill-treatment during interrogation in 260 hearings, the report said, including of women and children. The report said that judges did not generally question confessions that appeared to have been obtained in this way.

The UN agencies could not independently verify those allegations, but said they had been receiving “credible reports” of torture and ill-treatment by authorities for years.