Yemeni tribal chief pardon's his son's killer moments before his execution

In Yemen, the mother of a man who killed his friend camped at the deceased's gravesite to beg the man's father for forgiveness. The pardon was finally granted on February 20, 2023.
In Yemen, the mother of a man who killed his friend camped at the deceased's gravesite to beg the man's father for forgiveness. The pardon was finally granted on February 20, 2023. © Observers

On February 20th, 2023, a convicted murderer was granted clemency just moments before he was scheduled to be executed in Yemen's central Marib region. The news of the pardon has since been spreading rapidly across social media, providing a glimmer of hope in a country that has been ravaged by nine long years of war. According to our Observer, the decision to spare the man's life was due in large part to the intervention of his mother, who camped out at the grave of the victim to beg for forgiveness. This act of mercy is being hailed as a powerful source of inspiration and a symbol of the enduring resilience of the Yemeni people.

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It all began back in 2016, when Rabae Al-Demasi, a young man from the Bani Jabr tribe, killed his friend Sadam Al-Quhati during an argument. Rabae was arrested, convicted and sentenced to death. 

But during the days before the execution, the convicted man's mother camped out in front of the victim's tomb - begging for a pardon from the victim's father, chief of the Murad tribe.

The pardon – part of a tradition in Yemen’s tribal culture – was warmly praised around the country, which has suffered from nine years of civil war.

Our Observer Nadwa Dawsari is a Yemeni researcher and an expert on tribal customs and justice.

In tribal communities, women play an important role. Their opinion matters. 

In this case, the tribal chief granted the mother's request for clemency. It was a gesture that inspires respect, and enhances his stature.  

 

The tribes have put their internal disputes on hold since the beginning of the war. They have seized the opportunity to settle their own conflicts. Numerous tribal disputes have been resolved since 2015. Earlier this year there was a successful mediation among the Laqmoush tribes in Shabwa, which ended a dispute that had lasted for 80 years.

In addition to settling their own disputes, Yemeni tribes have worked to help reduce the impact of the war on civilians, Dawsari told us. 

They have helped protect public buildings and keep roads open so that goods can still be brought through. It's an essential service in a conflict that has brought on the world's worst humanitarian crisis, according to the UN.