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Yemen scraps amnesty for Saleh's aides

A new law proposed by the Yemeni government give legal immunity to to aides of President Ali Abdullah Saleh implicated in criminal charges

AFP , Friday 20 Jan 2012
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The Yemeni government has tweaked a contested bill that would have granted legal immunity to aides of President Ali Abdullah Saleh implicated in criminal affairs, a government source said Friday.

The new version "grants complete immunity to president Saleh" but his assistants will only benefit from "political immunity" and will be eventually held acccountable for criminal or terrorist acts, the same source told AFP.

The amended bill, adopted by the government on Thursday during an extraordinary meeting, also provides for the ratification of "laws on national reconciliation and transitional justice."

The government is to submit the bill to parliament on Saturday.

The original version, submitted 8 January, would have granted amnesty against prosecution to Saleh and the aides "who who worked with him in all government, civil and military departments during the years of his rule."

In November, Saleh signed a Gulf-brokered deal to end the political crisis in the impoverished country. Under it, he handed authority to Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, and the opposition formed a national unity government.

Saleh serves now as an honorary president until polls are held in February to elect Mansur as his successor.

A bloody crackdown on anti-Saleh demonstrations since January 2011 has claimed hundreds of lives.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said earlier this month that anyone who had committed abuses during the mass protests in Yemen must not be allowed to evade justice.

The UN commissioner urged decision-makers in Yemen to respect the prohibition in international law against amnesties for gross human rights violations.

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