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Cablegate: Al-Banna Sentence Reduced

R 101048Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY SANAA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 0606

UNCLAS SANAA 001826


FOR NEA/ARP:AMACDONALD AND THE OPS CENTER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER PREL PGOV KISL YM
SUBJECT: AL-BANNA SENTENCE REDUCED

1. International-media reports on November 8 indicated that
convicted terrorist Jaber al-Banna's sentence had been
reduced by a Yemeni court from 10 years to five. According
to Agence France Presse, al-Banna's sentence was reduced
because he "handed himself in to the authorities."
Reflecting the view of several embassy contacts, local
attorney Khalid al-Anisi told a political section LES
employee, "it's a political decision," not a legal one.

2. The embassy was not given advance warning of the
decision. After seeing the press reports, LEGATT telephoned
the Prosecutor General, who confirmed that the decision had
been made but indicated that before it could be implemented
it will need to be ratified by the Supreme Court. When asked
for more information, he said he could not discuss the matter
over the phone and that any meeting with the embassy would
have to be approved by the Attorney General. LEGATT attempts
to contact the Attorney General have been unsuccessful.

Comment
-------

3. While Post has been unable to verify through official
sources if the time al-Banna has already served will count
against the five-year sentence, it seems likely that it will.
If this is the case, as he served three years in prison
before his 2006 escape, his sentence may be completed in less
than two years. The evasiveness of a previously cooperative
Prosecutor's Office leads LEGATT to believe that it would
prefer to shield details of the decision from our scrutiny.
Post continues to seek clarification in this case and will
report any information it receives. End Comment.


SECHE

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