An appeals court in Yemen’s Huthi rebel-held capital Sanaa has confirmed a five-year jail sentence for a model accused of “prostitution”, her lawyer said Monday, denouncing a political verdict.
The Iran-backed Huthis took over Sanaa in 2014 and have been enforcing a morality campaign, particularly against women.
Entisar al-Hammadi, 21, was arrested in February 2021 in Sanaa at a checkpoint while on her way to a photo shoot with a friend.
Last year the two women were sentenced to five years in jail by a lower court for “prostitution”, “fornication” and “drug abuse”.
Rights groups and her lawyer, Khaled al-Kamal, have dismissed the charges as lies and branded them an attack against the freedom of women.
Human Rights Watch has said the trial was riddled with “irregularities and abuse”.
On Sunday an appeals court confirmed the earlier verdict, Kamal told AFP, adding that he will take the case to the supreme court.
“She was optimistic and hoped the verdict would be favourable to her,” Kamal said.
“She was shocked by the verdict and began to shout and cry,” he said, denouncing the ruling as politically motivated.
Hammadi, born to an Ethiopian mother and Yemeni father, has posted dozens of pictures on social media of her dressed in traditional costume, jeans or leather jacket, both with and without a headscarf.
She has thousands of followers on Instagram and Facebook.
Violence against women, especially in Huthi-controlled areas, has been on the rise since Yemen plunged into a civil war in 2014 that the United Nations says has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
The Huthis control much of the north of the country, while the internationally-recognised government based in the southern city of Aden is backed by a Saudi-led military coalition.