Outcry as Houthis put prominent judge on trial over ‘fake news’

Outcry as Houthis put prominent judge on trial over ‘fake news’
In February, the Houthis’ Supreme Judicial Council stripped Qatran of immunity and ordered that he be punished for breaking the law. (File)
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Updated 27 May 2024
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Outcry as Houthis put prominent judge on trial over ‘fake news’

Outcry as Houthis put prominent judge on trial over ‘fake news’
  • Militia actions that ignore people’s basic rights draw widespread condemnation

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s Houthi militia are preparing to prosecute Abdul Wahab Qatran, a prominent and outspoken judge, on charges of denigrating their leader and publishing false news, a Sanaa-based lawyer told Arab News on Monday. 

Abdul Majeed Sabra, a Yemeni lawyer, said that the Houthi-run Specialized Criminal Prosecution in Sanaa will begin questioning Qatran on Tuesday after the Houthi security and intelligence service referred him to the court, accusing him of disseminating rumors, fake news, and inflammatory information about the militia’s leaders.

“The case has been sent to the prosecution for further investigation tomorrow. If he is brought in, the prosecution will investigate and either submit him to trial by indictment or rule that there is no grounds for initiating a case, which means he will be released,” Sabra said. 

Armed Houthis surrounded and broke into Qatran’s home in Sanaa in January, destroying personal documents and furnishings. 

The judge was abducted and taken to a security and intelligence agency detention center, where he was held in solitary confinement without access to medical care, a lawyer, or contact with his family. 

Qatran was eventually allowed to call his family, who reported that he had been secluded and was “dying” as a result of isolation. 

The judge was seized after criticizing the Houthis for human rights violations and failing to pay public workers. Shortly before his abduction he voiced sympathy for a journalist who was attacked and beaten by the militia in Sanaa.

In February, the Houthis’ Supreme Judicial Council stripped Qatran of immunity and ordered that he be punished for breaking the law.

His captors refused repeated requests from his family to visit him and provide him with his medications.

News that the Houthis were planning to try Qatran provoked an outcry from Yemeni activists and international rights groups, which demanded that the militia halt the prosecution and release him. 

The Geneva-based SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties on Monday called the trial a “dangerous development,” and accused the Houthis of attempting to suppress the last outspoken citizens who live in regions under their control.

SAM said it “considers the Houthi group solely accountable for Judge Qatran’s safety and urges them to free him immediately.”

In a statement, it also called on the militia to “stop its actions that infringe people’s fundamental rights, particularly freedom of thought and speech.”

Meanwhile, the US Central Command said that its forces destroyed a drone launched by the Houthis over the Red Sea early on Sunday, the latest in a series of clashes between the Houthis and the US-led marine coalition.

The militia have not claimed to have struck any ships in international waters off Yemen or in the Indian Ocean in the last 48 hours.

Since November, the Houthis have seized a commercial ship in the Red Sea, sunk another in the same shipping lane, and fired hundreds of drones and ballistic missiles at international commercial and naval ships.

The militia claims its actions are in support of Palestinians under attack by Israel in Gaza.

At the same time, the UN Mission to Support the Hodeidah Agreement said on Sunday that four land mine explosions killed two civilians and injured four in April in three districts of the Red Sea province of Hodeidah.

This takes the total number of civilian casualties from land mines to 34, with 13 killed since the beginning of the year.

Human Rights Watch said last week that thousands of land mines laid by the Houthis continue to kill and maim people throughout Yemen. 

Explosive devices also “poison fields,” leaving farmland unusable, it said.


Palestinian Authority at risk of collapse, Norway says

Palestinian Authority at risk of collapse, Norway says
Updated 17 sec ago
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Palestinian Authority at risk of collapse, Norway says

Palestinian Authority at risk of collapse, Norway says
  • Norway chairs the international donor group to the Palestinians and is a backer of the Palestinian Authority
OSLO: The Palestinian Authority could collapse in the coming months, Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide said on Monday, citing a lack of funding, continuing violence and the fact that half a million Palestinians are not allowed to work in Israel.
“The Palestinian Authority, with whom we work closely, are warning us that they might be collapsing this summer,” Barth Eide said.
Norway chairs the international donor group to the Palestinians and is a backer of the PA.

Jordan braces for scorching heatwave as temperatures soar

Jordan braces for scorching heatwave as temperatures soar
Updated 7 min 48 sec ago
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Jordan braces for scorching heatwave as temperatures soar

Jordan braces for scorching heatwave as temperatures soar
  • The Gulf of Aqaba reached highs of 45 celsius
  • Temperatures in Jordan are set to rise slightly, with the heatwave persisting

AMMAN: The Jordan Meteorological Department forecast extreme heat for Monday, with most regions of the country — particularly the desert areas, Jordan Valley, Dead Sea and Aqaba — experiencing intense temperatures.

The Gulf of Aqaba reached highs of 45 celsius, the Southern Jordan Valley 44 celsius, Dead Sea 43 celsius, while the Desert Regions and the Northern Jordan Valley reached highs of 41 celsius. 

Cloud cover at medium and high altitudes is expected in the south and east of the Kingdom, state news agency Petra reported, with moderate northwesterly winds occasionally becoming brisk.

The JMD cautioned people against prolonged sun exposure, which could lead to dehydration, especially for vulnerable groups such as the elderly and those with health conditions. It also highlighted the risk of forest fires and the dangers of leaving children or flammable items, like perfumes and sanitizers, inside vehicles.

Looking ahead to Tuesday, temperatures in Jordan are set to rise slightly, with the heatwave persisting. Most areas will remain hot, the JMD said, and desert regions will face sweltering conditions. Northeasterly winds will prevail, shifting to moderate northwesterly by evening.

The heatwave will continue into Wednesday, with another slight increase in temperatures. Conditions will be blistering and dry across the highlands, the JMD warned, with extreme heat persisting elsewhere. Northeasterly winds will turn to moderate northwesterly later in the day.

Thursday will bring a modest reprieve as temperatures dip slightly. However, the weather will remain hot across most areas, with the desert, Jordan Valley, Dead Sea, and Aqaba continuing to sizzle. Moderate northwesterly winds will occasionally become brisk.


Iran calls for joint action by Islamic nations to stop Gaza war

Iran calls for joint action by Islamic nations to stop Gaza war
Updated 51 min 20 sec ago
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Iran calls for joint action by Islamic nations to stop Gaza war

Iran calls for joint action by Islamic nations to stop Gaza war
  • Israel’s military offensive on Gaza has killed at least 37,337 people so far

TEHRAN: Iran’s Acting Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani has called for joint action on the part of Islamic countries to pressure Israel into ending its brutal military activities in Gaza, which have devastated most of the enclave and killed thousands of Palestinians there.

Israel’s military offensive on Gaza has killed at least 37,337 people, mostly civilian women and children, since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza.

Humanitarian supplies for millions of Palestinians displaced by the conflict have been squeezed despite the Israeli military declaring it would “pause” fighting daily around a southern route to facilitate aid flows.

The Iranian official also spoke with his Afghan counterpart Amir Khan Muttaqi via telephone on Sunday, with the two discussing bilateral relations as well as the situation in war-ravaged Gaza.

Kani reiterated Iran’s readiness to help Kabul resolve its challenges and achieve growth, Iran’s news agency IRNA reported.


Kuwaiti citizen detained for alleged involvement in extremist group

Kuwaiti citizen detained for alleged involvement in extremist group
Updated 17 June 2024
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Kuwaiti citizen detained for alleged involvement in extremist group

Kuwaiti citizen detained for alleged involvement in extremist group

KUWAIT CITY: The Public Prosecution in Kuwait has ordered the detention of a citizen on charges of joining a group aimed at illegally undermining the country’s basic systems, state news agency KUNA reported on Sunday.

The individual is also accused of receiving training in making explosives and preparing poisons for illicit purposes, as well as planning to leave the country to fight with the group, though he was unable to do so.

The Public Prosecution interrogated the accused and presented him with the charges, according to a statement released on its official account on X. Investigation procedures are ongoing.


Yemen’s Houthis announce new maritime operations in support of Gaza

Yemen’s Houthis announce new maritime operations in support of Gaza
Updated 17 June 2024
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Yemen’s Houthis announce new maritime operations in support of Gaza

Yemen’s Houthis announce new maritime operations in support of Gaza
  • The Houthis declared that attacks on Israel-linked shipping will persist until Israel ends its war on Gaza and lifts the siege on Palestinian territories

SANAA: The Houthi militia’s army spokesman, Yahya Saree, announced on Sunday that an American destroyer and two Israel-linked ships were targeted in recent operations in the Red and Arabian seas.

Saree said that the US destroyer was hit by ballistic missiles in the Red Sea, while the two ships — Captain Paris and Happy Condor — were targeted in the Arabian Sea using naval missiles and drones, respectively.

He stated that these ships were targeted because they were en route to ports in Israeli-occupied territories.

Saree reaffirmed Yemen’s stance, declaring that attacks on Israel-linked shipping will persist until Israel ends its war on Gaza and lifts the siege on Palestinian territories.

He also emphasized that the Yemeni army would continue to defend its territory against US-UK “aggression,” referring to joint airstrikes by the two Western nations, which the latter claim were launched to protect international shipping.

The Houthis have rejected these claims, asserting that their military operations in international waters, ongoing since mid-November, only target Israeli ships or vessels heading to Israeli-occupied ports.