Two ex-officials handed 15-year jail terms over Jordan ‘coup plot’

Published July 13, 2021
A general view shows the exterior of a security court in Amman, Jordan. — Reuters
A general view shows the exterior of a security court in Amman, Jordan. — Reuters

AMMAN: A Jordanian court on Monday sentenced two former officials to 15 years in jail after finding them guilty of a coup plot that sparked a rare crisis in a kingdom seen as a pillar of stability in the region.

Former royal court chief Bassem Awadallah and an ex-envoy to Saudi Arabia, Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, had been convicted of conspiring to topple King Abdullah II in favour of his half-brother Prince Hamzah.

The former crown prince himself was not charged in the trial, but the charge sheet said he was “determined to fulfil his personal ambition to rule, in violation of the Hashemite constitution and customs”.

The trial took place behind closed doors at the State Security Court, a military tribunal that also includes civilian judges.

But on Monday, journalists were allowed to watch footage of the ruling via video link from a tent set up outside the court.

Delivering the ruling, Judge Muwaffaq al-Masaid noted that the men had been friends for 20 years and were close to Prince Hamzah.

He said they had tried to put into action “ideas that are hostile to the existing political system in the kingdom and his majesty King Abdullah”.

The men had tried “to create chaos, sedition and divisions within Jordanian society and spread hateful discourse towards the political system, threatening the safety and security” of the kingdom, he said.

Awadallah and Bin Zaid, who both have close ties to neighbouring Saudi Arabia, were found guilty of “incitement against the ruling system” and “acts that could threaten society and create sedition”.

Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2021

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