Monday, April 08, 2002



Appeals court overrules 25-year sentence of kidnapper, orders execution
Wed Apr 3, 4:22 PM ET

SAN`A, Yemen - An appeals court on Wednesday rejected a 25-year jail sentence issued by a lower court to a Yemeni who kidnapped a German businessman and handed down a new sentence of death.

Ahmed Nasser al-Zayidi was convicted Dec. 19 of kidnapping a German citizen identified only as Karl who worked for United Engineering and Automobile Company, the Mercedes agent in Yemen. It sentenced al-Zayidi to 25 years in jail.

The death sentence handed down by the appeals court still must be ratified by the Supreme court and approved by President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Karl was seized Nov. 28 at gunpoint in the diplomatic quarter of the capital, San`a, and was released Dec. 8 after government shelling of the mountain area where the kidnappers were believed to be hiding and then negotiations with tribal chiefs.

The government passed a law in 1999 making abductions punishable by death after frequent kidnappings harmed Yemen's image abroad and its tourism revenues.

Tribesmen from disadvantaged areas in Yemen, a poor and often lawless country at the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, tend to take hostages to press demands for government aid or for the release of jailed clansmen.

Most hostages have been treated as guests and released unharmed. However, four Western tourists were killed in 1998 during a botched rescue attempt by government forces of 16 tourists abducted by the militant Aden-Abyan Islamic Army