Yemeni model Entisar Al Hammadi sentenced to five years in prison by Houthi court

20-year-old's lawyer calls verdict 'unlawful' after eight-month trial

This undated handout picture obtained on April 21, 2021 from the Facebook page of Entisar al-Hammadi shows her posing for a 'selfie' at an unknown location. Hammadi was just starting out on her modelling career when she was arrested two months ago in Yemen's rebel-held capital Sanaa, where the Iran-backed Huthi rebels are enforcing a morals campaign.
Born to an Ethiopian mother and Yemeni father, the 19-year-old had been pictured online in traditional dress as well as leather and denim jackets, and sometimes she went without a Muslim headscarf.
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A Houthi-run court has sentenced Yemeni model and actress Entisar Al Hammadi to five years in prison, her lawyer told The National.

Ms Al Hammadi, 20, was abducted by Houthi militiamen who stopped her and three colleagues in a main street in Sanaa while she headed to a photoshoot in February. She was held on charges including committing indecent acts and drug possession.

The Iran-backed Houthis’ eight-month trial of the model has been described as “baseless” by her lawyer, Khaled Al Kamal.

Mr Al Kamal said the verdict by the Houthi-run court on Sunday was unlawful.

“Judge Osama Al Joneid, the head of the West Municipality Court, sentenced my client and one of her friends to five years in prison, meanwhile the third defendant got three years and the fourth defendant got a one-year term,” said Mr Al Kamal. “It was clear that the ruling was absolutely politicised.

“We filed an appeal because the verdict was absolutely unlawful. The judge was under pressure from the de facto authorities in Sanaa.”

Mr Al Kamal said his client had suffered psychological problems after being tortured following her abduction in February.

“She collapsed after hearing the court's ruling,” Mr Al Kamal said.

In June, Human Rights Watch said the model's trial was unfair.

“The Houthi authorities' unfair trial against Entisar Al Hammadi, on top of the arbitrary arrest and abuse against her in detention, is a stark reminder of the abuse that women face at the hands of authorities throughout Yemen,” said Michael Page, its deputy Middle East director.

“The Houthi authorities should ensure her rights to due process, including access to her charges and evidence against her so she can challenge it, and immediately drop charges that are so broad and vague that they are arbitrary.”

Ms Al Hammadi was born in Sanaa to a Yemeni father and Ethiopian mother. She grew up with an ambition to become a model and began her career by imitating famous models she watched on TV.

She later posted images on social media of her wearing Yemeni traditional outfits, some without a hijab, which drew criticism from conservative Yemenis.

Updated: November 8th 2021, 7:54 AM
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