Muslims Jailed in Yemen 'Innocent'

The Birmingham Post (England), December 26, 2003 | Go to article overview

Muslims Jailed in Yemen 'Innocent'


Byline: Neil Connor

Two British Muslims jailed on terrorism charges in the Yemen four years ago were back in Britain yesterday determined to clear their names.

Shahid Butt, aged 38, and Sarmad Ahmed, aged 26, both from Birmingham, left prison in Aden, Yemen, on Saturday having served their sentences, and immediately flew back home, the Foreign Office confirmed.

They were among ten people, including eight Britons, convicted in 1999 of charges of associating with armed groups, plotting murder and destruction and possessing weapons.

The prosecution also alleged the men were linked to an Islamic militant group responsible for kidnapping 16 Westerners in December 1998. Four of the captives died in a botched rescue bid. Three of the Britons were released just over a month after the 1999 trial, having being sentenced to time already served.

A fourth was released last year after serving three years. Two others remain in jail in the Yemen.

The jailed men have always maintained their innocence with some claiming confessions used in the trial were false and extracted by torture.

Lawyer Rashad Yaqoob, who has long fought for the group's release, said Butt and Ahmed were determined to clear their names.

'They have not come home to put all this behind them,' he said. 'They have always maintained their innocence and want to put the record straight.

'Their priority at the moment is to get back with their families and re-gather their strength.

'But they will consider their next steps in the New Year. …

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