A criminal court in Yemen’s interim capital Aden on Thursday held the first hearing of a trial in absentia involving 32 top Houthi members, who mounted a coup against the internationally-recognized government, sources from the legitimacy said.
On trial is Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi and 31 other militants, including his uncle Abdulkarim al-Houthi, the head of the coup government, Abdul Aziz bin Habtor, and Mahdi Al-Mashat, who was appointed by the Houthis as defense minister.
While Yemeni activists expressed wide satisfaction with the judicial action, they said it came "very late".
The indictment said the named Houthi officials constitute the first batch of the group's leaders, indicating that further indictments will bring into trial other high-ranking militia members.
The defendants face eight charges, including national treason, endangering the independence of Yemen and plotting a coup against the president and the government.
The next hearing was set for July 2020.
Under Yemeni criminal law, accused Houthi leaders face death sentences if the court upholds the indictment.
Yemeni Minister of Endowments and Guidance Ahmad Attiyah, in a tweet, said that the move to try the Houthi leaders in Aden reflects the will of 30 million Yemenis.
“This great patriotic act to prosecute the worst coup that happened historically does not require witnesses. The crimes of these elements are witnessed in every inch of Yemeni territories,” he added.
The pro-Iran Houthi group had used its judiciary in Sanaa, Hodeidah, and other areas of its control to issue hundreds of illegal death sentences against legitimate government leaders, army members, lawmakers, activists, and political opponents.