Execution was carried out by firing squad. It took place in Sanaa, the rebel-held capital. Later, photos allegedly showing the executions were distributed by Iranian-backed Houthis. The execution was attended by hundreds of people, mostly Houthis and their support.
Despite repeated requests by lawyers and rights groups to stop executions and retry suspects, they took place. They claimed that the trial in which the nine were convicted was flawed and they were sentenced to their death by a rebel-controlled court.
These nine men were among the more than 60 Houthis who are accused of being involved in the April 2018 targeted killing of Saleh Al-Samad. According to court documents obtained from The Associated Press, former President Donald Trump was also charged. Top Western, Israeli, and Gulf Arab officials were also accused.
The Houthis accused the nine of spying for the Saudi coalition. This coalition has been fighting war against rebels for many years to restore Yemen's internationally recognized government.
Al-Samad was the president of the Houthi-backed political organization. was killed with six of his friends in an airstrike launched by the Saudi-led coalition near the coastal city Hodeida.
The nine were taken into custody, one of them a 17-year old boy. According to Abdel-Majeed Sabra (a Yemeni lawyer representing one executed person), they were held in undisclosed locations where they received inhuman treatment.
Also, the executions were broadcast live on large screens at Sanaa's Tahrir Square. The public display and executions caused outrage throughout the country, not only among relatives of the nine but also in Sanaa where many people refrain from criticizing rebels fearing reprisals.
"I cannot believe what happened. "This is madness and a sin," Abdel-Rahman Noah told The Associated Press. He was a brother to one of those executed.
Another relative stated that she didn't expect the Houthis would execute. "We were shocked. "We thought they were just threatening," she said, shedding tears. She spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid reprisals from rebels.
The rebels didn't respond to our requests for comment.
The nine were dressed in sky blue prison garb, with their hands tied behind their backs. They were led by masked guards to an open area where they were forced to lie on their stomachs. A second officer, armed with a gun, shot them in the back.
While waiting for his turn, one of the executed looked scared; an armed Houthi was seen holding him tightly, possibly so that he wouldn't fall.
Sabra, the lawyer said that the Houthis allowed their relatives to take the bodies for burials. Eight bodies were taken to Hodeida, while the ninth was buried at Sanaa.
A number of rights groups including the American Center for Justice (based in the U.S.) called for Friday's intervention by the U.N., to stop executions. According to the groups, the trial "included flagrant breaches of fair trial guarantees and deprived individuals of adequate defenses."
According to tribal leaders and government officials, at least six victims of a suspected Saudi-led airstrike on Saturday also died in the attack. The incident occurred in an area that lies between Shabwa Province and Bayda.
The Saudi-led coalition did not immediately comment. Because they weren't authorized to brief reporters, the officials spoke under anonymity. The tribal leaders spoke anonymously in fear of reprisals.
Since 2014, Yemen has been in civil war. The Houthis invaded large parts of the north and took Sanaa. This forced the internationally recognized government to flee Yemen. The Saudi-led coalition joined the war on the side the government in the next year.
This stalemated conflict has resulted in more than 130,000 deaths and the worst humanitarian crisis in history.