Sana’a, Mar, 20 – A military prosecution has begun interrogating some of those accused of firing upon protesters on Friday, the Yemen Times has learned. A source which asked to remain anonymous said that only military personnel were present at the investigation session on Sunday which was organised by President Saleh to probe those implicated with Friday’s onslaught which left at over 40 protesters dead.“Military prosecutions are usually only for cases which involve members of the armed forces, which makes it possible to think the attackers are part of Yemen’s army,” said Abdul Rahman Barman, activist and lawyer.Meanwhile, Yemen’s General Prosecutor, Abdullah Al-Olofi, who went to the scene of the attack to investigate the murders, was forced to hide in an ambulance after being met by a crowd of angry demonstrators.
Riot police surrounding Sana’a
University were withdrawn and replaced by heavily-armed military personnel on Sunday morning to protect over a hundred thousand protesters leading a funeral march in memory of those killed on Friday.
“The military has been forced to interveneto protect the protesters and to stop this violence,” said Shawqhi Al-Qhadhi, an M Pfrom the Islamic opposition party, Islah.
President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced that Sunday was to be a day of mourning after 52 people were killed on Friday by gunman firing from the roofs of nearby houses.Most of the victims were shot directly in the head or the chest. Doctors say at least 617 injured, 347 suffered from inhaling tear-gas. Eyewitnesses said that some of the gunman were caught by the protesters; one died after being thrown from the roof of the Yemen Bank of Reconstruction and Development.
The Yemen times was told that snipers were spotted on four separate buildings and that five gunmen had been caught and handed over to the general prosecution early Saturday.Members of the protest security committee interrogated the snipers and took their testimonies before delivering them to the prosecution.
“Some of the security forces helped us to arrest them “said Marwan Al-Zoubairy from the security committee at the protest.”An armored division close to the sit-in helped us stop some of the attackers.”
Local and international NGOs have condemned Friday’s violence against protesters while a group of Yemeni religious scholars and sheikhs released statements holding president Saleh personally responsible for the attack. The JMP, Yemen’s opposition coalition have also blamed the government for the violence.
Saleh has claimed that clashes between the protesters and angry local residents caused the bloodshed.
President Saleh went on to call those killed,”martyrs of democracy” and renewed his call for the protesters to coordinate with the interior ministry and move their sit-in to another location that is not full of residents.
The JMP has called on the GCC, the Arab league, and the Islamic Conference Organization to stand by the Yemeni people to protect their lives and freedoms.
State of emergency declared
Many activists and lawyers have said that Saleh’s announcement of a 30 day state of emergency on Friday is against the Yemeni constitution.
Article 121 of theconstitution states, “The House of Representatives shall be called to session within one week and be presented with the declaration of emergency. If the House is not called to session, or the declaration of the state of emergency has not been presented to it, then the state of emergency shall cease to exist according to the Constitution.”
Shawqhi Al-Qhadhi told the Yemen Times that what happened Friday is not a sufficient cause for calling a state of emergency.
”This is an abuse of a public post. The president is using the constitution to serve his own benefits.”