Jordanians Accused of Plotting ‘Terrorist’ Acts Plead Not Guilty
Thirteen Jordanians accused of having plotted "terrorist" attacks were formally indicted on Tuesday, and all pleaded not guilty, reported AFP.
Military judge Colonel Tayyel Rakkad read the charge sheet accusing the 13 of possessing and manufacturing explosives with the intention of carrying out illegal activity, as well as "conspiracy to carry out terrorist attacks," the lawyer for three of them, Samih Khreiss, told AFP.
"All the defendants, including the three I represent, pleaded not guilty," Khreiss said, adding that the next court session had been scheduled for July 23.
Khreiss said he presented the court, which also includes a second military judge and a civilian one, with a written document listing the "political and legal" aspects of the case.
"There have been many legal violations during the interrogation of the defendants, who were subjected to all sorts of pressure from the security officers who arrested them and questioned them," Khreiss said.
He also criticized the authorities for failing to allow defense lawyers to assist their clients during their interrogations by security officers.
On the political front, Khreiss said, the defendants were "motivated by the developments in the region" and namely "the crimes perpetrated by the Zionist enemy against Palestine and Lebanon as well as the imperialist American crimes against Iraq and its people."
Khreiss urged the court to drop the charges against the defendants and "free them immediately."
Khreiss represents Bilal Khreissat, who is charged with heading the terrorist network, his brother Abderrazak Khreissat, and Jamal Al Moghrabi, said the agency.
According to Mohammad Dweik, a lawyer specialized in such cases, the defendants belong to an illegal militant organization called the Khalaya, or "cells."
According to Dweik, the allegedly incriminating materials are commonly used in households "but need scientific experience to turn them into explosives." The materials were found by the police in the garbage at the entrance of the defendants' house.
The Khreissats are natives of the city of Salt to the northwest of Amman.
"The network, the cells, to which the 13 accused are affiliated, is a small group, that does not have any ties with foreigners," Khreiss had told the agency on July 8.
According to Dweik, the Khalaya is similar in its ideology to Baya't Al Imam and Jaish Mohammad, two terrorist organizations whose members have been arrested and tried by the authorities for conducting or planning terror acts.
Jordan received widespread publicity for its arrest of scores of Islamists in 1999, who allegedly had links to dissident Saudi tycoon Osama bin Laden. Twenty-eight of them were charged with plotting to bomb tourist sites and hotels popular among Westerners during Jordan's 2000 New Year celebration.
Six were sentenced to death last September.
A Jordanian-American held in relation to the case was released to Lebanon in May due to his poor health, according to AFP - Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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