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Wed 1 May 2013 10:00 AM

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Yemen's ex-president to face protester deaths probe - HRW

Around 45 deaths occurred at an anti-government protest in March 2011, says rights group

Yemen's ex-president to face protester deaths probe - HRW
Former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, pictured right.

Yemen is to investigate former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and 11 aides in relation to the death of around 45 protestors at an anti-government event in March 2011, according to a report by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) group.

A court in Sanaa on April 27 ordered the reopening of the investigation, which will include the former president and his nephews Yahya Saleh and Tareq Saleh. Around 45 protesters were killed and some 200 were wounded during the protest, which has been dubbed the Friday of Dignity massacre, HRW said.

“The court ordered investigation of former president Saleh and several top aides for the ‘Friday of Dignity’ massacre may prove a breakthrough for justice in Yemen, but only if prosecutors now do their jobs,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s Middle East director “The authorities should leave no stone unturned until they have identified the people responsible for these killings and held them to account.”

In October 2012, lawyers for victims of the Friday of Dignity massacre filed a motion seeking the indictment of the former president and senior officials.

Investigations have been complicated by an immunity law passed by Yemen’s parliament as part of the political deal agreed when Saleh stepped down in February 2012 after 33 years in power.