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

As AIDS Epidemic Matures, Workplaces Adapt

Issue of AIDS in workplace is one of many social issues being discussed at the 20th International Aids Conference in Australia More

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid