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Grenade-Thrower’s Sentence Reduced

September 1, 2002

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SAN`A, Yemen (AP) _ A Yemeni appeals court reduced the sentence Sunday of a man who threw a grenade into the grounds of the U.S. Embassy in March.

Amid tight security, the court cut Samir Yahya Awadh’s 10-year sentence to seven. No explanation for the ruling was given.

A handcuffed Awadh, speaking from behind bars surrounding the court dock, told reporters the verdict was ``totally unjust.″

``I was in an abnormal state when I did that (threw the grenade). I was zealous about the Palestinian cause,″ he said.

Awadh’s lawyer, who said following the original May 18 sentencing that his client would appeal, was not at court Sunday. The reason for his absence was not immediately clear.

The court initially found Awadh guilty of endangering public security, tarnishing Yemen’s image and illegal weapons possession following the March 15 embassy attack, which came a day after Vice President Dick Cheney met with Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh at San`a airport.

Awadh had testified to throwing a concussion grenade into the embassy grounds in response to what he called American bias toward Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians.

The grenade, which is used to stun and shock rather than kill, exploded harmlessly. Police arrested Awadh and found another grenade in his pocket.

Police said Awadh acted alone and did not belong to a political or religious organization.

Security in Yemen has been a top U.S. concern since the suicide attack on the destroyer USS Cole in Aden harbor in 2000, which killed 17 American sailors.

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