Brits Question Yemen Suspects
SAN’A, Yemen (AP) _ A British diplomat visited six British citizens detained in Yemen on charges of sabotage and involvement in the kidnapping of Western tourists, a government news agency reported Saturday.
The official Yemen News Agency said British consul David Pearce visited the men Friday.
The news agency said the men were being questioned and that they ``and the others from the terrorist gang ... that kidnapped and killed the Western tourists will be tried soon.″
Yemen announced earlier this week that those arrested last month in the port city of Aden on charges of attempting to carry out terrorist acts included six citizens of Britain and one from France. The men are believed to be of Pakistani, Algerian and Yemeni origin.
British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook urged a swift and fair trial for the Britons in a telephone conversation with Yemen’s Prime Minister Abdul-Karim al-Iryani.
``They must be given every opportunity to defend themselves.″ Cook said.
SABA said al-Iryani promised Cook that the suspects will be charged as soon as possible and will have the ``right to defend themselves through their lawyer″ in the presence of a British diplomat.
Authorities claim the men are related to a militant Islamic group that kidnapped 16 Westerners on Dec. 28, four of whom died in a rescue attempt by the Yemeni army a day later.
Interior Minister Hussein Mohammed Arab said the kidnappers had given government negotiators just one hour to release two jailed leaders before they said they would start killing hostages.
Arab also said the group to which the kidnappers belonged, the Islamic Jihad, was planning to bomb the British Consulate in Aden, a camp of American military experts, Aden International Airport, U.N. offices, churches and hotels.