A Yemeni court today convicted 32 suspected al Qaeda operatives for planning to carry out suicide bombings against oil and gas installations and other Western and U.S. interests.
The group on trial included 36 Yemenis but four were acquitted of the charges.
Six of the group remain at large — all top suspects who were tried in absentia. Three of them were sentenced to 15 years in prison each, another one got 12 years and the remaining two 10 years each.
The prosecution had charged the group with "forming an armed gang aimed at carrying out sabotage attacks." They were accused of planning to attack oil installations in the Marib and Hadaramout provinces with rocket-propelled grenades in September 2006.
Three of the suspects claimed their confessions were elicited throught torture.
Torture has been a concern in Yemen before.
In 2004, the United Nations' Committee on Torture recommended that Yemen define precisely what constitutes torture and align its laws with the U.N.'s Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The committee also raised concerns that criminal penalties such as flogging and amputation of limbs may be in violation of the Convention.
Yemen is considered an al Qaeda stronghold with it being Osama Bin Laden's ancestral homeland and also the site of the 2000 terrorist attack on the USS Cole in the country's port of Aden.