The case of Hamed Bin Haydara

Details on the imprisonment and trial of Mr. Hamed Bin Haydara

Last updated 15 April 2019

Mr. Hamed Kamal Mohammad bin Haydara was arrested at his workplace on 3 December 2013 by the National Security Agency and held in custody in Sana’a, Yemen.  Following his arrest, his home was raided and documents and laptops were confiscated by inspectors from the National Security Office, one of which said that Mr. Haydara was a “destroyer of Islam and religion.” In September 2014, Mrs. Ilham Zara’i was the first to visit Mr. Haydara and learned that he had been forced to sign several documents while blindfolded and been subjected to repeated torture, including being beaten and electrocuted. By October 2014, Mr. Haydara was transferred to the Central Prison under the jurisdiction of the Prosecution Service. The process of prosecution, however, was repeatedly delayed due to the influence of his prosecutor, Mr. Rajeh Zayyed, who, on various occasions, demonstrated extreme prejudice against the Baha’is and blocked medical treatment requests for Mr. Haydara. Formal charges against Mr. Haydara were not agreed upon until January 2015, and they included absurd claims such as his being a spy for Israel and that he had obtained his passport using a false name. Several court dates were scheduled for 2015, but Mr. Haydara did not appear again in court until 8 November 2015 when he was permitted by the judge to attend a hospital to be diagnosed. On 24 November, a medical doctor evaluated Mr. Haydara and said that he required surgery to remove his gallbladder and also needed heart surgery. On 6 December, the planned court hearing was cancelled since the judge was on medical leave.

Mr. Haydara appeared in court at least six times in 2016. During the court hearing on 3 April 2016, a peaceful gathering with over 100 supporters of Mr. Haydara appeared outside of the court. It was not until the 24 April court hearing that the judge permitted Mr. Haydara to receive medical treatment, albeit inside the prison. By mid-September of 2016, it became well-established that a faction within the political movement of the Houthis was under the influence of Iran and motivated the actions of Mr. Zayyed against Mr. Haydara as well as those arrested on 10 August.

After two postponements, a court hearing was finally held with Mr. Haydara on 6 November. This time, however, the previous public prosecutor, Mr. Zayid, was replaced with Mr. Husayn al-Runi, and the previous judge, Mr. Ali al-Amisi, was replaced with Mr. Abdu Ismail Rajih. The new judge appeared to be more reasonable since he allowed Mr. Haydara and his lawyer to speak. By the end of the hearing the judge ordered that Mr. Haydara be transferred to a private hospital or the prison infirmary for special care. Towards the end of December, Mr. Haydara presented himself for another court hearing but it was cancelled because the judge was unwell.

On 10 January 2017, a hearing took place and Mr. Zayid was present as the prosecutor. Mr. Haydara was able to answer questions and his lawyer presented documents establishing his Yemeni nationality. By the end of the session, the judge indicated that unless Mr. Zayid could provide more substantial evidence regarding Mr. Haydara’s purported ties to Israel, then a ruling would be imminent. Unfortunately, court hearings scheduled for 12 February and 4 March were cancelled. Mr. Haydara most recently appeared for his last-scheduled hearing on 6 March. However, the judge was absent.

On 2 January 2018, the Specialized Criminal Court in Sana’a, Yemen, issued a ruling that sentenced Mr. Haydara to death due to his religious beliefs. Judge Abdu Ismail Hassan Rajeh, also called for the confiscation of all of his assets, on the pretext that Mr. Haydara had been in communication with the Universal House of Justice, the international governing body of the Baha’is, which is located in Israel. The verdict requires that the execution be carried out in public. The verdict also calls for the disbanding of Baha’i Assemblies (national and local administrative bodies), which mirrors acts of persecution committed in Iran against the Baha’is in the 1980s. An appeal to the court decision was immediately issued by the defense lawyer.

In December 2018, during the UN mediated talks in Stockholm, Sweden, the Houthi rebels and the Yemeni government agreed to a deal that included a mass prisoner’s swap. However, shortly after the Stockholm agreement, the Houthis exerted pressure on their judicial system to abruptly schedule a hearing for admissal of the appeal.

The appeals court hearing for Mr. Haydara took place on 1 January 2019. Among those present were the judge and two of his assistants as well as the chief prosecutor and the defence lawyer. During the hearing, the judge read the summary of Mr. Haydara’s case which had been prepared by the prosecution. In response, Mr. Haydara stated that the conclusions were based on lies and false accusations. Despite the previous order prohibiting Mr. Haydara from receiving visitors, the judge permitted the defence lawyer to visit Mr. Haydara and to obtain a copy of the criminal case and verdict. The next hearing was set for 29 January 2019.

On 29 January Mr. Haydara’s trial took place, but no verdict was issued.  The judge set the date for the next court hearing as 19 February 2019.

Mr. Haydara’s court session took place as scheduled on 19 February. During the hearing his lawyer asked for more time to prepare the defence, and the judge granted him three weeks. The judge set the next hearing for 12 March 2019. No verdict was reached on his case on 12 March, and the next court hearing was scheduled for 2 April 2019. On 2 April, again no verdict was reached and his next court hearing was set for 30 April 2019.