The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen denied on Thursday knowledge that a jail had been inside the Sana'a-based military police camp, where a coalition airstrike killed 39 people and injured 90 others in December 2017, saying the raid was based on accurate measures in compliance with the international human law.
On Wednesday 13 December 2017, the coalition air force conducted a military mission on a legitimate target using precise-hit bombs, said spokesman for the coalition-formed joint panel to judge accidents in Yemen.
The target was based on intelligence that leaders and newly-trained fighters of the Houthi militias were inside the camp, Mansour al-Mansour added at press conference.
Yemen has been racked by an armed conflict that broke out after the Iranian-backed Houthis had ousted the internationally recognized government late in 2014.
The conflict escalated after a Saudi-led coalition intervened militarily in the country in March 2015 to reinstate the government of President Hadi in the rebel-held Sana'a.
Some of the coalition airstrikes have missed targets, however, leaving hundreds of civilians killed and making UN agencies accuse the coalition of war crimes.
As for the hit on the camp, the "coalition was advised by no international or human agency .. and no insignia was in place to indicate the presence of the jail," Mansour said. Following the hit, the panel knew "there were people jailed in a secret prison inside one of the camp buildings."
Houthi group has accused the coalition of targeting a prison "although they knew well it was a detention facility that had already been visited by the ICRC and UN," according to Houthi-run HR ministry.
In a report issued in December 2018, the local Sam organization for rights and freedoms stated the coalition had knowingly hit the jail, and that Houthis had used the prisoners as human shield and opened fire at them while trying to flee the raid.
Houthis moved abductees from the central prison to the military police camp and told them that was on the ICRC's request, the organization quoted Yusuf Ajlan, who had been released just before the hit, as saying.
"The ICRC visited us two weeks after we had been moved," Ajaln added, and "we told them about our fears that coalition aircraft could strike the detention home. They told us they had advised the coalition that the place had hosted prisoners."
On 19 April 2018, Sam sent a letter asking the ICRC in Sana'a if they had advised the coalition, but has received no answer, said the organization.
But the panel spokesman said videotapes confirm that the coalition had taken all precautions required to minimize damages.
"International law clearly states that any buildings used for detaining war prisoners or political arrestees should be far away from military operation areas and may not be used for military operations," Mansour added.
"The panel recommends, from humanitarian viewpoint, the coalition to provide assistances for the wounded and relatives of the dead."
Yemen 4-year war has left tens of thousands killed, hundreds of thousands injured, and 3 million displaced, triggering what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with most of the population in need for a type of humanitarian aid and immediate protection, including 14 million people risking famine and some 1.8 million children suffering malnutrition.