Jordan's Higher Court of Justice Monday rejected an appeal filed against the expulsion of four Jordanian members of the Palestinian extremist group Hamas, citing procedural reasons.
The court said that the power-of-attorney given by the four Jordanians to their lawyers was made outside the kingdom and therefore "unlawful, prompting a rejection of the appeal."
The head of the defense team Saleh Armouti walked out of the courtroom immediately after the judgment, expressing "deep disappointment" with the verdict, which he said was "political".
Another defense lawyer, Hani Khasawna, told reporters he expected the defense to meet soon to examine further steps such as an appeal to another court. He reiterated that the expulsion was "unconstitutional".
"The court's verdict did not touch upon the gist of the case, that is the expulsion order, and this means that in the future we can still appeal to the higher administrative court or state council," Khasawna said.
"We had hoped that the court would not refer to procedural issues but get to the core of the matter," said Khasawna, a former information minister.
He reiterated that the expulsion orders issued in November 1999 against four leaders of the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, "contradict article nine of the Constitution", which bans the expulsion of Jordanians from their country.
Armouti filed the initial appeal in January, two months after Jordan deported to Qatar Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Misha’l, spokesman Ibrahim Ghosheh and political bureau members Ezzat Rushuq and Sami Khater.
Their expulsion was the culmination of an unprecedented crackdown by the Jordanian authorities against Hamas, launched in August.
They closed Hamas offices in the kingdom and deported its top leaders, accusing them of illegal activity that threatened the stability and foreign relations of Jordan, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.
Jordanian authorities have repeatedly said they will not go back on their decisions and stressed that the Hamas leaders will only be allowed to return if they totally renounce party membership and activity.
Hamas is violently opposed to the Arab-Israeli peace process and has been responsible for a string of deadly anti-Israeli attacks – Amman (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)