Two ex-German soldiers convicted over Yemen war mercenary plan

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By AP
A Yemeni soldier inspects a site of Saudi-led airstrikes targeting two houses in Sanaa.
A Yemeni soldier inspects a site of Saudi-led airstrikes targeting two houses in Sanaa.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Hani Mohammed, File

Two former German soldiers have been convicted of trying to form a mercenary group to intervene in Yemen’s civil war.

The two men -- aged 53 and 61 -- were also found guilty of attempting to form a terrorist organisation and were handed suspended sentences of 14 months and 18 months.

The Stuttgart court heard that the soldiers had decided in April 2021 to set up a paramilitary unit of 100 to 150 people, predominantly current and former German soldiers.

They allegedly aimed to take control of an area held by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels to force peace talks with Yemen’s internationally-recognised government.

The court said the defendants were influenced by "ideas coloured by Christian fundamentalism" and by the predictions of a Turkish fortune-teller, as well as by a desire to make money.

One of the men had tried to contact Saudi officials to obtain financial and military help, while the other tried to recruit former and current soldiers.

Although unsuccessful, they continued with their mercenary plans until they were arrested a year ago.