News / Middle East

Jordanian Court Acquits Cleric on Conspiracy Charge

Radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada, left, speaks with his lawyer Hussein Mubadeen after his trial at the State Security Court in Amman, Jordan, June 26, 2014.
Radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada, left, speaks with his lawyer Hussein Mubadeen after his trial at the State Security Court in Amman, Jordan, June 26, 2014.
VOA News

A Jordanian court on Thursday acquitted al-Qaida-linked Muslim cleric Abu Qatada, who was extradited from Britain last year, of charges of plotting an attack on the American school in the capital, Amman.

But authorities will continue to detain the preacher because of separate charges related to a plot to attack tourists during Jordan's New Year celebrations in 2000.

“The court announces the acquittal of the defendant for lack of evidence,” said Ahmad Qatarneh, the judge presiding over the three-man military tribunal, which has drawn the criticism of human rights advocates.

Abu Qatada, who was deported from Britain last July after a 10-year legal battle, smiled and looked relaxed during the half-hour court session. Dressed in brown prison fatigues, he was flanked by black-clad security officers.

Members of his family cried out for joy when the verdict was read and his wife and her relatives burst into tears.

“Thanks and praise to God!” they shouted.

Tried in absentia

The Palestinian-born preacher was condemned to death in absentia in 1999 by an Amman court for conspiracy to carry out an attack on the American school. The sentence was immediately commuted to life imprisonment with hard labor.

A year later, he was sentenced in absentia to 15 years for plotting to attack tourists in Jordan during millennium celebrations.

Thursday's session was a retrial in which the prosecution had argued Abu Qatada was a mentor to militant cells in Jordan while he was in Britain, providing spiritual and material support to a campaign of violence during the late 1990s.

But the court quashed the conspiracy charges and postponed another hearing on the New Year plot charges until Sept. 7.

Reacting to the ruling, British Immigration and Security Minister James Brokenshire said the retrial was made possible due to the British government's "determination to successfully deport him from the UK."

"While the courts in Jordan have acquitted Abu Qatada of one of the two charges against him, it is right the due process of law is allowed to take place in his own country," Brokenshire said in a statement.

Abu Qatata's defense lawyer Ghazi Thunaibat said he hoped the second trial would bring a similar sentence.

“My client has spent too long in prison unfairly and we hope the next verdict will finally end his plight and allow him to resume a normal life with his family,” he told Reuters.

In December, Thunaibat called for his client's release, saying his rights had been violated by the presence of the military judge in court and reliance on hearings of evidence extracted under torture from other defendants.

Despite the acquittal, the court upheld a confession which had convicted Abu Qatada in absentia in the earlier trial. The defense said the confession had been extracted under torture.

European and British courts used the confession to delay his deportation until he agreed to return to Jordan for a retrial.

“Human Rights Watch is troubled by the verdict that made it permissible to include allegations of a confession made under coercion that was held in doubt by British courts and the European court of Human Rights,” said Adam Coogle, a Human Rights Watch researcher who attended the session.

Extradition treaty

Abu Qatada's return to Jordan was made possible by an extradition treaty adopted by Jordan and Britain that satisfied the concerns of British judges about the use of evidence obtained through torture.

Jordan regularly arrests Islamist suspects and puts them on trial in military courts that rights groups say are illegal and lack proper legal safeguards. Jordan denies it convicts people using confessions extracted under duress.

Linked by a Spanish judge to the late al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden, Abu Qatada has been in and out of jail in Britain since 2001. He was extradited to Jordan in July last year.

Jordanian security officials and experts on Islamist radical groups say Abu Qatada's ideological writings have influenced many youths involved with al-Qaida.

“This is a man who the British courts have deemed a risk to national security. He is not coming back,” British Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman told reporters on Thursday.

“He will not be granted permission to enter the UK, end of story. He was deported on an indefinite deportation order.”

Abu Qatada has used some hearings to lend support to global al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri in a row with a splinter group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which took control of swathes of land in Iraq this month and is in Syria.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters, AFP and AP.

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid