Yemen jails five over Limburg, US envoy murder plot
SANAA: A Yemeni court jailed five Al Qaeda supporters for 10 years on Saturday for bombing the French supertanker Limburg and sentenced to death another militant who plotted with them to kill the US ambassador to Sanaa.
Another nine Yemenis received prison terms of three to 10 years for the assassination conspiracy and for plotting with the other six to attack the embassies of the United States, Germany, France, Britain and Cuba.
Upon hearing the verdict the 15 bearded men in blue prison dress burst into cries of “God is great, America is the enemy of God, Osama bin Laden is God’s beloved”.
The Limburg bombing off Yemen’s coast in October 2002 killed one of the 25 crew and ignited a fire on board the supertanker loaded with 400,000 barrels of Saudi crude.
France, the Limburg’s crew and its owners Euronav said the blast occurred shortly after a small boat was seen speeding towards the tanker in the Gulf of Aden.
According to interview transcripts, the five Qaeda-linked men told investigators they attacked the Limburg on orders from an Al Qaeda leader in Yemen, Ali al-Harthi.
The CIA killed Harthi with a missile fired from a drone aircraft later the same year.
The prosecution said all 15 defendants planned to assassinate US Ambassador Edmund Hull to avenge Harthi’s death.
Harthi, and his aide Mohammad Hamdi al-Ahdal who was arrested last year, were suspected of responsibility for the 2000 bombing of the US warship Cole in Yemen’s Aden harbour, which killed 17 American sailors.
Five suspects are on trial in Yemen for the Cole bombing.
The 15 militants sentenced on Saturday were also found guilty of forming an armed group and carrying out attacks on Yemeni and Western targets.
Hazem Megalli, who received the death penalty, was in addition convicted of killing a Yemeni soldier at an army checkpoint. All 15 are appealing the verdicts. reuters