Jordan refers plot suspects to security court over alleged conspiracy

King Abdullah, who released a number of Hamza’s personal aides in an act of clemency, described the crisis as “the most painful” during his 22 years of rule because it came from both inside and outside the royal family.
Thursday 03/06/2021
A file picture shows Jordan’s King Abdullah II and members of the royal family including former crown prince and half-brother Prince Hamza in Amman. REUTERS
A file picture shows Jordan’s King Abdullah II and members of the royal family including former crown prince and half-brother Prince Hamza in Amman. (REUTERS)

AMMAN--Jordanian prosecutors on Wednesday referred the case of a former top confidant of King Abdullah and a minor royal to the state security court over accusations of conspiring to destabilise the country, state media said on Wednesday.

“The investigation was completed and the file has been sent to the Attorney General,” an official source said, quoted by the official Petra news agency.

Prosecutors must now draw up charges and set a date for the trial, according to Jordanian legal procedure.

“The file will be referred to the Public Prosecutor at the State Security Court to carry out the legal requirement of issuing an indictment,” after which “trial sessions” will begin, professor of constitutional law, Laith Nasrawin, told state television.

The charges “will not deviate from the crimes of undermining the political regime, as defined by Article 49 of the Penal Code … acts that disturb public order and threaten societal security, which is considered a crime of terrorism,” he added.

Judicial sources said the development paved the way for the trial of Bassem Awadallah, a former royal court chief and finance minister who played a big role in the drive to liberalise the economy and Sherif Hassan Zaid, a distant relative of the king.

They were among some 15 people arrested in early April when Prince Hamza was placed under house arrest over allegations that he liaised with foreign parties over a plot to destabilise Jordan, a close US ally in the Middle East.

Proceedings against Prince Hamza, who along with Awadallah had been under investigation for some time, were later dropped after he pledged allegiance to King Abdullah.

Awadallah is among the closest economic advisers to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, a matter that complicated the judicial investigations, two senior politicians familiar with the affair said on condition of anonymity. Amman turned down Riyadh’s request to hand him over, they added, without elaborating.

The intrigue exposed the first serious rift within the ruling Hashemite family in many years and shook the image of the country as an island of stability in an unpredictable region.

Moreover, it prompted major Western and regional powers to rally behind King Abdullah in a show of public support for a staunch US ally that plays a pivotal role in regional security.

Prince Hamza was not seen as a direct threat to the king but his attempts to tap grievances of tribes who are the backbone of support for the royal family suggested he wanted to shore up his position after being removed from the royal succession.

King Abdullah, who released a number of Hamza’s personal aides in an act of clemency, described the crisis as “the most painful” during his 22 years of rule because it came from both inside and outside the royal family.