AL-MUKALLA: A court inside Houthi-controlled Sanaa has handed down death sentences to 19 army officers loyal to the legitimate government.
The ruling is the latest decision in a series of death penalties by the Iran-backed Houthis against their political and military opponents.
Lawyers in Sanaa said that the Specialized Criminal Court on Tuesday accused the generals of working in collusion with the Saudi-led coalition.
The sentenced generals are Vice President Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmer, Defense Minister Mohammed Ali Al-Maqdashi, the commander of Aden-based 4th Military Region Fadhel Hassan and other army generals who are commanding battles against the Houthis.
The same Houthi-controlled court recently sentenced 35 lawmakers to death for switching sides and supporting the Saudi-led coalition and the internationally recognized government.
The court ordered executing the MPs in addition to seizing their properties in Sanaa and other areas in northern Yemen.
Yemeni activists say that armed rebels storm houses in Sanaa owned by MPs who fled the city after the Houthi takeover in late 2014. SAM Organization for Human Rights and Liberties said the Houthi militia broke into three houses owned by Saleh Al-Sanabani, Abdul Kareem Al-Aslami and Abdul Wahab Maoudha.
Nabiel Al-Osaidi, a senior member of the Yemen Journalist Syndicate and a rights activist, told Arab News that rebels broke into the house of Al-Sanabani where they asked his family to leave and seized two laptops before vandalizing furniture.
“Houthis enrich themselves by seizing opponents’ properties. They can rent them, live in them or use them for blackmailing opponents,” Al-Osaidi said.
The UN human rights office has called on Houthis to scrap death penalties and house raids. “We are extremely concerned by the overall conduct of the trial and that it is politically motivated, as well as its failure to comply with international norms and standards,” human rights spokesperson Liz Throssell said at a press conference in Geneva on March 6.
On the battlefields, Houthis continue to press ahead with their offensive on government troops in the central province of Marib in an attempt to seize control of a strategic military base in Serwah. Yemen’s Ministry of Defense said on Tuesday that as many as 60 Houthis were killed and dozens injured or captured when loyalist forces pushed back a Houthi assault on Kawfal military base in Marib.
State TV quoted army soldiers as saying that waves of Houthi fighters pushed towards the base following heavy shelling in an attempt to break through the army’s lines of defense.
Yemeni Army generals hailed the Saudi-led coalition warplanes that targeted Houthi reinforcements, which enabled government forces to repel the attack on the base.
In the neighboring Baydha province, Brig. Hussein Ahmad Al-Nagah, the commander of 117 Infantry Brigade, said that as many as 50 Houthis were killed and many others injured in heavy fighting in the Qania region.
Yemeni state TV showed bodies of Houthi fighters carried on trucks as soldiers shelled their positions with cannons, anti-aircraft guns and rockets.