A Houthi-controlled Specialised Criminal Court in Yemen has sentenced ten people, American, Saudi, and Yemeni officials to death over a Saudi coalition airstrike that took place on 9 August 2018 and claimed the lives of 51 students travelling on a bus, according to the Houthi authorities.
Among those sentenced, are US President Donald Trump, his former Defence Secretary James Mattis, Saudi King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Yemeni President Mansour Hadi. It is unclear how the US president and his former defence secretary are related to the crime, but Washington remains one of the main suppliers of weapons to Saudi Arabia.
The court, which assembled in the absence of the defendants, also ruled that the convicted have to pay $10 billion to the relatives of the victims of the 2018 airstrike.
Young Victims of Lasting War in Yemen
The airstrike, which claimed the lives of dozens of Yemeni children was decried by the majority of human rights watchdogs. However, the Saudi-led coalition, which has been waging a war against Shia Houthi forces in Yemen for five years now, defended its actions, claiming the air raid was "legitimate" and that it targeted Houthi leaders "responsible for recruiting and training young children".
Following the airstrike, the Pentagon stated that it was not involved in the fatal airstrike, with James Mattis adding that a three-star general would be dispatched to Riyadh in order to "look into what happened". The US called on the Saudi-led coalition to thoroughly investigate the matter and determine how it happened.
According to the Houthis, the August 2018 airstrike is just one of the many conducted by the Riyadh coalition to result in civilian casualties. Saudi Arabia, who along with several other Gulf states is fighting to reinstate the previous Sunni Yemen government, ousted by the Houthis in 2014, in turn, accuses the group of targeting its border cities and oil industry infrastructure with airstrikes.