Nine ‘spies’ are shot dead in brutal public execution in Yemen by Houthi rebels after ‘sham trial’


Nine men found guilty of spying in Yemen have been put to death in a brutal public execution in which they were dragged into a square, forced to lie on their fronts and shot in the back.

They were convicted in a ‘sham trial’ for their alleged involvement in the killing of a senior Houthi official in an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition more than three years ago. 

Hundreds of people, mostly Houthis and their supporters, attended Saturday’s execution in Tahrir Square in the rebel-held capital of Sanaa and danced in the streets after the deaths.

An executioner stands over a man convicted of being involved in the killing of senior Houthi official Saleh al-Samad

Policemen stand around bags containing the bodies of the nine men who were publicly executed on Saturday

Policemen stand around bags containing the bodies of the nine men who were publicly executed on Saturday

They were convicted in a 'sham trial' for their alleged involvement in the killing of a senior Houthi official in an airstrike

They were convicted in a ‘sham trial’ for their alleged involvement in the killing of a senior Houthi official in an airstrike

The nine defendants line up before the brutal execution in front of hundreds of Houthi supporters

The nine defendants line up before the brutal execution in front of hundreds of Houthi supporters

Yemeni soldiers shout slogans and cheer as the executions are carried out in front of a huge crowd of Houthi supporters

Yemeni soldiers shout slogans and cheer as the executions are carried out in front of a huge crowd of Houthi supporters

The killings, carried out by the Iran-aligned Houthi movement, have sparked international outrage with the EU branding them ‘cruel and inhumane’.

The nine were among more than 60 people the Houthis accused of involvement in the targeted killing of Saleh al-Samad in April 2018. 

They were charged with spying for the Saudi-led coalition, which has been waging war against the rebels for years in an effort to bring back Yemen’s internationally recognised government to power.  

Al-Samad, who held the post of president in the administration which runs most of northern Yemen, was killed by a coalition air strike in the port city of Hodeidah on Yemen’s west coast.

A Houthi court found the nine men, including one who was a minor when he was arrested, guilty of spying and sharing sensitive information. 

Pro-Houthi soldiers patrol the streets following the executions which have sparked international outrage

Pro-Houthi soldiers patrol the streets following the executions which have sparked international outrage

An executioner gestures before he shoots a man convicted of involvement in the killing of Saleh al-Samad

An executioner gestures before he shoots a man convicted of involvement in the killing of Saleh al-Samad

The nine were among more than 60 people the Houthis accused of involvement in the targeted killing of Saleh al-Samad (pictured) in April 2018

The nine were among more than 60 people the Houthis accused of involvement in the targeted killing of Saleh al-Samad (pictured) in April 2018

They were charged with spying for the Saudi-led coalition, which has been waging war against the rebels for years

They were charged with spying for the Saudi-led coalition, which has been waging war against the rebels for years

Yemenis celebrate following the execution of nine men at a public square in the Yemeni capital Sanaa

Yemenis celebrate following the execution of nine men at a public square in the Yemeni capital Sanaa

Pictures and videos of the executions have been widely shared on social media, which showed military officers shooting the nine men in the back in Sanaa’s central public square.

The nine were arrested months after al-Samad’s killing and were held for months in undisclosed places where they suffered inhumane treatment, according to Abdel-Majeed Sabra, a Yemeni lawyer representing one of the people executed. 

In a statement condemning the executions, an EU spokesperson said there had also been reports of irregularities in the judicial process and allegations of mistreatment.

‘The European Union strongly opposes the death penalty at all times and in all circumstances. It is a cruel and inhumane punishment…,’ said the statement.

Earlier, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a similar statement in which he also called for a moratorium on use of the death penalty in Yemen and for a peaceful negotiated settlement of the conflict there.

A Houthi court found the nine men, including one who was a minor when he was arrested, guilty of spying and sharing sensitive information

A Houthi court found the nine men, including one who was a minor when he was arrested, guilty of spying and sharing sensitive information

The nine were arrested months after al-Samad's killing and were held for months in undisclosed places

The nine were arrested months after al-Samad’s killing and were held for months in undisclosed places

The nine were among more than 60 people the Houthis accused of involvement in the targeted killing of Saleh al-Samad in April 2018. Pictured: policemen carry a defendant's body away

The nine were among more than 60 people the Houthis accused of involvement in the targeted killing of Saleh al-Samad in April 2018. Pictured: policemen carry a defendant’s body away

Security forces loyal to Yemen's Huthi rebels stand guard during Saturday's public execution

Security forces loyal to Yemen’s Huthi rebels stand guard during Saturday’s public execution

The US embassy in Yemen condemned what it called ‘a sham trial following years of torture and abuse’ by the Houthis. 

Britain said the executions demonstrated ‘indifference to human dignity & blatant disregard for fair trial & due process’.

The Houthis’ foreign ministry dismissed the criticism as ‘interference in domestic affairs’ and accused the United Nations and the West of turning a blind eye to the ‘coalition’s crimes’.

Samad was the most senior official to be killed by the coalition in the years-long war in which the Houthis are fighting forces loyal to the internationally-recognised government based in the southern port city of Aden.

The US embassy in Yemen condemned what it called 'a sham trial following years of torture and abuse' by the Houthis

The US embassy in Yemen condemned what it called ‘a sham trial following years of torture and abuse’ by the Houthis

Britain said the executions demonstrated 'indifference to human dignity & blatant disregard for fair trial & due process

Britain said the executions demonstrated ‘indifference to human dignity & blatant disregard for fair trial & due process

Houthi military commander Abdullah al-Hakim (centre) attends the execution to the delight of his supporters

Houthi military commander Abdullah al-Hakim (centre) attends the execution to the delight of his supporters

Yemen has been embroiled in a civil war since 2014, when the Houthis swept across much of the north and seized Sanaa

Yemen has been embroiled in a civil war since 2014, when the Houthis swept across much of the north and seized Sanaa

Yemen has been embroiled in a civil war since 2014, when the Houthis swept across much of the north and seized Sanaa, forcing the internationally recognised government into exile. 

The Saudi-led coalition entered the war the following year on the side of the government.

The stalemated conflict has killed more than 130,000 people and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

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