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Jordanian Court Sentences Would-Be Female Suicide Bomber to Death

A military court in Jordan has sentenced an Iraqi woman to death for trying to carry out a suicide bombing in an Amman hotel last November. Six other people were sentenced in absentia.

Under tight security, a three-judge panel sentenced Sajida Al-Rishawi and six others to death by hanging. They were convicted of conspiracy to carry out a terrorist attack causing death and destruction, and of illegal possession of explosives.

Al-Rishawi is the only one of the defendants currently in custody. The others, including another Iraqi woman, were tried and convicted in absentia. Wearing a black headscarf and blue prison dress, Al-Rishawi showed little emotion as the judgment was read out.

Her defense lawyer, Hussein Al-Masri, said his client was not surprised by the death sentence.

"The verdict can be appealed," he said. He then expresses his confidence that the appeals court will study the case carefully and make a fair decision.

The simultaneous suicide bombings killed some 60 people in three Amman hotels last year. All of the bombers were Iraqi. Al-Rishawi's husband blew himself up at a wedding party in the Radisson hotel.

A few days later, after her arrest, Sajida Al-Rishawi's videotaped confession was broadcast on national television. In the video, she said her explosive belt had failed to detonate. She later retracted that confession. Her lawyer told the court that it was extracted under duress, and she pleaded not guilty to the charges against her.

The group Al-Qaida in Iraq claimed responsibility for the bombings. The group's Jordanian-born leader, Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, was originally charged as well, but the case against him was dropped after he was killed by a U.S. air strike in Iraq in June.