In a televised execution attended by thousands of Yemenis chanting approval, a man convicted of raping and killing a toddler was placed face down in a public square in Yemen’s capital on Monday and shot with an automatic weapon at point-blank range.
While public executions are not new in Yemen, the broadcast of this one, conducted by the Houthi rebels who have controlled the capital for more than two years in a calamitous civil war, was somewhat unusual.
The egregiousness of the offense and public outrage over it may have played a role in the decision to show the execution on TV, as a way of mollifying the victim’s family and portraying the Houthis as vigilant against crime.
The condemned man, identified by Yemen’s Saba News Agency as Mohammed Saad Mujahid al-Maghrabi, 41, was found guilty by a Houthi-run court of the attack on Rana al-Matan, a 3-year-old girl.
Court officials, the victim’s family and news agencies were invited to attend, Saba reported. It said a crowd numbering in the thousands had converged around the clearing in Sana’s Tahrir Square where the execution was carried out.
Many spectators held cellphone cameras aloft to record it. Some were perched on telephone poles and rooftops.