A young model and actress abducted by Houthi rebels has gone on trial for trumped-up charges of involvement in a drug and prostitution ring.
Human rights organisations, however, claim the 20-year-old woman is, in fact, the victim of a crackdown on liberal voices in rebel-controlled areas of the country.
Entesar Al-Hammadi was just 19 years old when she was snatched off the streets of the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, and taken to a secret jail on 20th February.
According to reports, she was tortured during her detention, including being interrogated while blindfolded, slapped, hurled sexist and racist remarks, and even subjected to a ‘virginity test’.
Activists have now slammed the trial as a sham, with the court refusing to provide her lawyer, Khaled Mohammed Al-Kamal, with the case documents, according to legal activist Abdul Wahab Qatran.
Her lawyer has also not been able to comment on the trial, given the Sanaa court’s media ban on the case, and he was suspended from his job of 20 years last week.
The rebels also sacked a prosecutor who had ordered the young woman’s release, and they also intimidated and harassed her supporters, sending some of them death threats.
Entesar had told a local TV channel last year that she dreamt of travelling abroad to escape Yemen’s stifling conservative society.
The model, whose mother is Ethiopian, often posed for photos without a hijab and kept an Instagram page, where she has 4,100 followers.
The Supreme Political Council, the Houthi executive body, is largely unrecognised internationally, despite controlling the capital and most of North Yemen.
As such, it has frequently disregarded international human rights laws since the ongoing Yemeni Civil War began in September 2014.