Fugitive ‘Terrorist’ Condemned by Jordan Says Prepared to Face Court
A man condemned to death Monday in absentia by a Jordanian court for plotting terrorist actions denied that he was guilty and said he would face the court if guaranteed a fair trial, reported AFP.
Munir Maqdah is a senior member of the PLO’s Fateh organization who lives in the Ein el-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon.
He was one of six persons, including three others also described as fugitives, who were sentenced to death by a Jordanian security court for plotting attacks against Jews, US targets and tourist destinations in the kingdom.
Maqdah, who said he was never summoned by Jordanian prosecutors and that he only learned of the charges against him and the verdict through the press, told AFP he was the "victim of a political trial."
"These are accusations that have been entirely fabricated by the American, Israeli and Jordanian intelligence services to reduce to silence any voice that opposes the so-called peace process," he said.
Even though he is a member of Fateh, Maqdah opposes the current peace process with Israel.
He said he is prepared to face the Jordanian court to refute "these false charges if I am guaranteed a fair trial."
Maqdah was accused of having provided arms and explosives to Khadr Abu Hoshar, the alleged ringleader of the group, in Syria with the aim of bringing them into Jordan.
Abu Hoshar, who is behind bars in Jordan, was among those sentenced to death.
Maqdah has denied even knowing Abu Hoshar, or any of the other defendants in the case.
Six of the 28 suspects were sentenced to death, allegedly linked to Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden, for plotting attacks against Israeli and US targets in the kingdom, reported Reuters.
The six, four of whom are at large, were among 28 militants standing trial on charges including possession of weapons and explosives, membership of bin Laden's group, and plotting bombings during millennium celebrations last December, said the agency.
The court also sentenced two other militants to hang but commuted their sentences to life imprisonment.
It acquitted six defendants and handed down 15-year jail sentences to the rest. Some of these sentences were commuted to between seven-and-a-half and 10 years, added Reuters.
"Due to the dangerous crimes and their effect on the country's economy, I urge the court to impose the heaviest punishments on them," State Security Court prosecutor Mahmoud Obeidat said before Chief Judge Lieutenant Colonel Tayel al-Raqad pronounced the verdicts.
According to the agency, the verdicts will automatically be appealed to a higher Court of Cassation. Jordan has commuted all previous death sentences imposed for political crimes.
Twelve of the 28 suspects were tried in absentia. The verdicts and sentences, the climax of a five-month trial, were read during a court session attended by the 16 detained defendants.
The suspects in court had denied links to bin Laden and charges that they had planned strikes at tourist sites frequented by Israeli and US tourists.
"You are the criminals, Allahu Akbar (God is Greatest)," shouted Saed Hijazi, 25, after the court commuted his death sentence to a life prison term.
The court dismissed defense allegations that their clients' testimonies were extracted under duress and beatings in the presence of intelligence officers, added Reuters.
Meanwhile, USA Today newspaper said on Monday that Jordanian intelligence officials recently gave US intelligence agencies computer-disk copies of a six-volume manual used by bin Laden to train recruits at his camps in Afghanistan, added the agency.
The manual also instructed recruits on how to assemble bombs similar to those that destroyed the US embassies, the newspaper said.
USA Today, quoting senior US intelligence officials, reported that the manual was seized from one of the 16 men on trial in Amman, according to the agency – (Several Sources)
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