News / Middle East

Abu Qatada Challenges Jordanian Court Authority in Terrorism Trial

Family members (R) of radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada walk past security personnel as they arrive to attend his trial at the State Security Court in Amman, Jordan, Dec. 10, 2013.
Family members (R) of radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada walk past security personnel as they arrive to attend his trial at the State Security Court in Amman, Jordan, Dec. 10, 2013.
Reuters
Radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada told a Jordanian court on Tuesday he was not guilty of terrorism charges and he challenged its authority to try him under the terms of his deportation from Britain.
 
Appearing in court in brown prison fatigues, Abu Qatada said the presence of a military judge in the panel of three violated the agreement under which he was flown back to Jordan in July after many years of legal battles in Britain.
 
The Islamist cleric had already been sentenced in absentia by a Jordanian court to life imprisonment for conspiracy to carry out al-Qaida-style attacks against U.S. and other targets inside Jordan.
 
He is now being retried, with the prosecution arguing he was a mentor to jihadist cells in Jordan while he was in Britain, providing both spiritual and material support to a campaign of violence during the late 1990s inside Jordan, whose pro-Western policies made it an al-Qaida target.
 
“I have been prevented from defending myself for a long period, and God knows that I am innocent,” said Abu Qatada, saying that the charges against him were fabricated.
 
“There has been a betrayal of the agreement under which I have come," he said. "There is now a military judge...I have come to be tried by civilian judges.”
 
“This court is a betrayal of the agreement and I don't recognize it,” said Abu Qatada, whose real name is Mahmoud Othman.
 
His lawyer Ghazi Thuneibat called for Abu Qatada's release, saying his rights had been violated by the presence of the military judge and reliance on evidence that was extracted under torture from other defendants.

"Legal assurances"
 
Past attempts to extradite Abu Qatada were hampered by concern that evidence to be used in Jordan may have been obtained through torture, making his deportation illegal under the European Convention on Human Rights.
 
A legal deal signed by Jordan and Britain last April included guarantees against the use of such evidence. That, along with a European court ruling, had persuaded Abu Qatada to return to Jordan, Thuneibat said.
 
“My client came to Jordan on the legal assurances by the highest court in Europe that use of evidence obtained through torture will not be used in this retrial. These [EU] court decisions overrule national laws,” the lawyer said.
 
“These confessions were given under torture and so using them in a retrial makes this an unjust trial,” he said.
 
Prosecutor Colonel Fawaz al-Atoum said he rejected foreign judicial rulings that challenge the operations of the state security court.
 
“The Jordanian constitution rises above any other laws or agreements,” Atoum said, in apparent reference to the EU court.
 
Jordanian officials who deny confessions were extracted under torture have pledged a fair trial for Abu Qatada.
 
The military tribunals have been criticized by international human rights organizations which have called for their abolition and for civilians to face trial in civilian courts.
 
Linked by a Spanish judge to the late al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden, Abu Qatada was in and out of jail in Britain since first being arrested in 2001. He was sent back to prison last March for breaching his bail conditions.
 
Jordanian security officials and experts on Islamist radical groups say Abu Qatada's ideological writings have influenced many Qaeda youths.
 
Sermons of the heavily bearded Abu Qatada were found in a Hamburg flat used by some of those who carried out the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
 
In 2005, al-Qaida claimed responsibility for three suicide bombings that ripped through luxury hotels in Jordan's capital, killing dozens of people.
 
Jordanian authorities have arrested scores of hardline Islamists in recent months along its border with Syria as they were about to cross the frontier to join jihadist groups fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid