SAN`A, Yemen – A court convicted 15 Yemeni militants Saturday on terror charges including the 2002 bombing of a French oil tanker and plotting to kill the U.S. ambassador.
One man was sentenced to death for killing a Yemeni police officer and seven were sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Six of the defendants plus a man tried in absentia -- who received the longest prison terms of 10 years -- were found guilty of participating in the October 2002 bombing of the Limburg (search) oil tanker, which killed one Bulgarian crew member and spilled 90,000 barrels of oil into the Gulf of Aden.
The conviction of one of those men, Fawaz al-Rabeiee, also included the attack a helicopter carrying Hunt Oil Co. (search) employees a month later and for detonating explosions at civil aviation authority building. Al-Rabeiee also was fined $97,000 to compensate for the building damage.
Only two defense attorneys were present for the sentencing as the others boycotted a process they maintained was unfair.
The defendants frequently interrupted Ahmed al-Jarmouzi's remarks, shouting "Fear God" and "Lies!"
Outside, sharpshooters were posted on nearby rooftops. Several armored vehicles and machine gun-mounted military jeeps surrounded the court building and blocked off streets in the area.
The death sentence was handed down to Hazam Majali, convicted of killing a Yemeni police officer at a checkpoint in 2002.
Six other militants were sentenced to five years in prison for detonating explosives at embassies, plotting to assassinate U.S. Ambassador Edmund Hull as well as security officials and for roles in the attack on the helicopter carrying employees of Texas-based Hunt Oil.
One defendant was sentenced to three years in prison for falsifying documents relating to the various attacks.
The defendants, including some with suspected ties to Osama bin Laden (search)'s Al Qaeda terror network, said Saturday they would appeal the verdict.
The father of al-Rabeiee, Mohamed, told The Associated Press he considered the convictions and sentences politically motivated.
"These are illegal sentences because the lawyers were not given the chance to defend them," he said.