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Attorney General Delays Death Penalty for Minor

A 24 year old man from Ibb, scheduled for execution on the 12th January, was granted temporary reprieve by the Attorney General until his dental records have been verified in order to determine his age, the Minister of Justice said Saturday.

Muhammed Taher Thabet Samoum escaped the gallows in November when his executioner was in absentia after falling ill, but as the new date approached, he appealed for clemency, saying he killed his friend by mistake when he was just 13.

“I swear by God that the killing happened by mistake when I was with my friend Ammar al-Jamili playing with an AK-47 machine gun,” he said, adding he passed out after hearing the bang of a fired round, only to see his friend lying in blood when he came round.

Samoum said the family of the victim had advised him to hand himself in to police and that he would be set free through a “tribal agreement and paying blood money.”

“Some parties meddled in the case, taking it to a death sentence, although I was only 13” at the time, in May 1999, he has said.

Capital sentencing for individuals under the age of 18 contravenes both international and Yemeni law.  In 1994 Yemeni law abrogated the death penalty for crimes committed by individuals under 18 years of age.

During an interview on Saturday, Minister for Human Rights, Houda Al-Ban claimed, “the Minister of Justice has agreed to delay the execution until the dental records have determined the defendants age.  Only after doctors have reviewed the relevant documents can the order be revoked,” she said.