'Tortured' Yemeni colonel dies after five years in Houthi custody

Family of Abdulmajid Aloos refuses to hold funeral without forensic examination of his body

A Yemeni army colonel died on Wednesday from brain injuries caused by torture during more than five years in the custody of Houthi rebels, his family said.

Col Abdulmajid Aloos, 55, a former head of the Defence Ministry's military innovations unit, was captured by the Iran-backed rebels near his residence in the capital, Sanaa, in March 2016. His lawyer had appealed for his release after he was admitted to hospital in July last year with a brain haemorrhage.

The colonel's sister said he died in hospital without family members being allowed to see him.

“My brother died suffering brain haemorrhage. They refused to let us take him to die in his own home and when they saw him taking his last breath, they took him to the hospital where he died,” the sister, who asked not to be named for security reasons, told The National.

“I went with my mother to see him but they didn't allow us to come into the intensive care unit at the hospital,” she said.

“Sadly, my father and mother still don't know that he has passed away. We couldn't tell them because we refused to go to the hospital to take his body — we insisted that we want a forensic examination of his body before his funeral,” she said.

The colonel's lawyer, Abdulmajid Sabra, told The National that his client was tortured during interrogation and that the rebels denied his repeated requests to see a doctor before he was taken to Sanaa's Al Jamhouri public hospital in July 2020.

“His family went to see him in the hospital but they found him almost dead. He wasn’t able to talk to them any more,” Mr Sabra said at the time.

According to Mr Sabra, the colonel was sentenced to death by a Houthi court a year after his arrest for allegedly working with the Saudi-led Arab coalition, which is fighting the rebels on the government's behalf. The sentence was confirmed by another rebel court in December 2019, he said.

An association of mothers of Houthi prisoners condemned the rebels' treatment of Col Aloos.

“Aloos was exposed to brutal torture while he was being questioned. His family repeatedly saw bruises on his face on the few occasions they were allowed to visit him. He repeatedly asked to be seen by a doctor and the court accepted his request, but the prosecution and the security authorities refused to do so,” the Abductees' Mothers' Association said in a statement on Wednesday.

“We strongly condemn all forms of the brutal torture Colonel Aloos was exposed to physically and psychologically and the sick treatment that he was exposed to inside the Houthi prison which led to his death,” it said.

“We hold the Houthi group accountable for his death.”

Updated: November 25th 2021, 8:02 AM