BEIRUT

Middle East

Abu Qatada threatens Jordan terror trial boycott

  • Jordanian police cars in Amman December 24, 2013. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

AMMAN: Islamist cleric Abu Qatada threatened on Thursday to boycott his retrial in Jordan on terror charges, demanding that the court respect a deal that led to his deportation from Britain.

"I asked you at the last hearing (January 16) to publicly declare your commitment to the agreement signed by Jordan. If you do not do that, I will boycott the trial and I will not deal with the court," Abu Qatada told judge Ahmad Tarawneh, who led a panel of three civilian judges at the military state security court.

Tarawneh said, without elaborating, that "the court is committed to the agreement" with Britain.

Palestinian-born preacher Abu Qatada was condemned to death in absentia in 1999 for conspiracy to carry out terror attacks, including on the American school in Amman.

However, the sentence was immediately commuted to life imprisonment with hard labour.

In 2000, he was sentenced in absentia to 15 years for plotting to attack tourists in Jordan during millennium celebrations, and videotapes of his sermons were allegedly found in the Hamburg flat of 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta.

Abu Qatada has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Britain expelled him last summer after Amman and London ratified a treaty guaranteeing that evidence obtained by torture would not be used in his retrial and that the proceedings would be transparent.

After his deportation, Abu Qatada was granted a retrial in line with Jordanian law, and military prosecutors charged him with conspiracy to carry out acts of terrorism.

If convicted, he could face a minimum of 15 years' hard labour.

On Thursday, at a hearing also attended by representatives from the US and French embassies, Human Rights Watch and other activists, he complained of delays.

"Procedures are taking too long. You must declare your commitment. Otherwise, I will leave it to the lawyers. I want justice," Abu Qatada said.

His lawyer Hussein Mobaidin said that "the period between each hearing should be shorter", but was not more specific.

The case was adjourned until February 13.

 
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Summary

Islamist cleric Abu Qatada threatened on Thursday to boycott his retrial in Jordan on terror charges, demanding that the court respect a deal that led to his deportation from Britain.

Palestinian-born preacher Abu Qatada was condemned to death in absentia in 1999 for conspiracy to carry out terror attacks, including on the American school in Amman.

However, the sentence was immediately commuted to life imprisonment with hard labour.

Abu Qatada has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

On Thursday, at a hearing also attended by representatives from the US and French embassies, Human Rights Watch and other activists, he complained of delays.


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