PRESS RELEASE: British men face possible death penalty

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Concerns that five men are being used as scapegoats in Yemen

 

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Islamic Human Rights Commission
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8.1.99

British men face possible death penalty
Concerns that five men are being used as scapegoats in Yemen

The Islamic Human Rights Commission is deeply concerned by reports that five British men are to be tried tomorrow in Yemen on charges obliquely relating to the killing of British and other hostages at the end of last year.

IHRC notes that the five men were arrested one week before the hostages were killed, on separate charges relating to intending 'to cause chaos in Aden city.' Relatives of the men, and other observers fear that the men may be used as scapegoats for the bungled Yemeni rescue operation which saw the deaths of British and other hostages.

In a letter to Robin Cook, IHRC chairman Massoud Shadjareh points to the lack of public support these five British citizens - all Muslim - appear to be receiving from the Foreign Office, despite behind the scene activity:

" We hope that you agree that urgent action is required if another miscarriage of justice is to be avoided and more British lives are lost. The intervention by the Foreign Office in cases involving British citizens abroad has unfortunately not been consistent. The Saudi nurses case saw your office bringing both Lucille Parry and Deborah McGloughlan home. In the case of Omar Shaikh, detained in India since 1993, your office has been quoted as saying it does not involve itself in the internal affairs of another country. We sincerely hope that your stance on this will change. If not, the Foreign Policy's actions regarding British citizens will be seen to be affected not by a new ethical standard but by Islamophobia.”

The five men appear to have been tortured and face a possible death penalty if convicted. Yemen's human rights record leaves IHRC with deep concerns that a gross miscarriage of justice is about to take place unless there is concerted effort on the part of the British authorities to prevent it.