Public executions in Yemen between cheers and flashes

Hundreds of people gathered yesterday in an arid wasteland of the Yemeni port city of Aden. At half past nine in the morning a crowd of men swirled next to


Yemeni Government police officers prepare Wadah Refat and Mohamed Khaled for execution in Aden. FAWAZ SALMANREUTERS

Hundreds of people witnessed in Aden the application of the death sentence against two men for abducting, raping and murdering a 12-year-old boy

Yemen, two years of violence that have left more than 60,000 dead

Hundreds of people gathered yesterday in an arid wasteland of the Yemeni port city of Aden . At half past nine in the morning a crowd of men swarmed next to the club Al Nasr, with the horizon dotted with rudimentary homes. Among the public, there were those who approached, tempted by curiosity, aboard motorcycles making their engines roar. Others, however, chose to approach on foot and join the human circle that, mobile in hand, watched expectantly the center of the circle. In the first rows, the children sat hastily without looking away from the scene. In the latter, the laggards enjoyed a delayed visibility climbing on the vehicles. From all angles, in the middle of the improvised stage, stretched out on a striped blanket, were Wadah Refat and Mohamed Khaled. The two young people, aged 28 and 31 respectively, were the protagonists. The tumult formed by large and small came to see their last death rattles.

Both were condemned to capital punishment a few months ago for abducting, raping and murdering Mohamed Saad, aged 12 . The events happened last May. The boy played next to the house of one of his executioners in the district of Al Basatin, in the southern city of Yemen converted into capital of the government of President Abdo Rabu Mansur Hadi, backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The inmates dragged him to the home and raped him inside his walls. "After the rape, they could not silence the cries of the child who begged for help, one of them grabbed a knife and cracked his neck," details the court verdict. In the event two other people were involved. A 33-year-old woman, a relative of one of the rapists, was also sentenced to death for helping to dismember her body. His public execution, however, was postponed due to his pregnancy. It will take place when the period of lactation expires. The fourth person involved was sentenced to two years behind bars.

Wearing blue trousers and shirts, handcuffed and surrounded by uniforms, Wadah and Mohamed perished under the bursts of a firing squad, the usual method by which the security forces apply the capital penalties dictated by the courts of the poorest country in the Gulf. Persian, undone by four years of civil war in which Iran and Saudi Arabia litigate for their regional hegemony. The penal code considers as alternatives the stoning, the scaffold and the decapitation. In spite of the trenches that cross its geography, the public executions unite to the sides in liza. In Sana'a, controlled by the rival group of the Houthis, a handful of criminals accused of rapes and murders of children have been shot in the central Tahrir Square. Their corpses were then hung from a lamppost. The frames of the executions showed the same crowd uploaded to bus shelters and bus stops, eager to follow live the death of the condemned. "I have witnessed some execution and the people enjoy it, shouting 'justice, justice,'" he tells EL the Yemeni journalist Ahmad al Gohbary.

"Public execution is an even more grotesque violation of human rights, particularly in a country where the ability of the accused to obtain adequate legal representation and the coverage of the process is highly limited," Sarah Leah Whitson, director , points out to this newspaper. of Human Rights Watch . The penultimate mass execution occurred in January in Abb, about 200 kilometers south of Sanaa. The execution, held in a crowded stadium, received such attention that it was recorded with a drone and later distributed on television. The prisoner who perished on the field was called Yusef al Zawabi and had been accused of raping and murdering Alaa al-Hamiri, a teenager in the city. He suffered the same agony as Wadah and Mohamed: a battalion of agents, armed with automatic rifles, opened fire on his heart, following the instructions of a doctor. Clothed by a roar of cheers and flashes.

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