Jordan jails two senior figures convicted of plotting coup

Jordan sedition trial security
Bassem Awadallah and Sharif Hassan bin Zaid pleaded guilty at the start of the closed-door trial (Image: AFP)

A court in Jordan has found a former royal court chief and a relative of King Abdullah guilty of sedition and incitement against the monarchy.

Bassem Awadallah and Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, who denied the charges, were both sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The two men were detained in April, when former Crown Prince Hamzah was placed under house arrest over an alleged plot to destabilise the nation.

Prince Hamzah, who is the king’s half-brother, did not face any charges.

The king said he had decided to deal with his case “within the framework of the Hashemite family” after Prince Hamzah publicly pledged his allegiance.

Prince Hamzah, 41, is the eldest son of the late King Hussein and his favourite wife Queen Noor.

He was named crown prince in 1999, when his father died and Abdullah became king. However, Abdullah stripped Hamzah of the position in 2004.

On 3 April, the prince released two videos in which he said he had been placed under house arrest. He cited a senior official as saying criticism of the king had been voiced at meetings he attended.

He denied any wrongdoing and insisted he had only spoken out against corruption and poor governance.

But the deputy prime minister alleged he had liaised with “some foreign entities” and sought to mobilise “clan leaders against the government”.

On 5 April, Prince Hamzah signed a letter pledging that he was “committed to the constitution”.

King Abdullah later declared his half-brother was “with his family in his palace under my care”.

Eighteen people were arrested over the alleged plot. All but Awadallah and Sharif Hassan were released without charge in late April.

The pair went on trial last month at the State Security Court for “incitement against the political regime” and “carrying out acts that endanger the safety and security of society and stirring up sedition”.

An indictment alleged they had conspired with Prince Hamzah who, it said, “was determined to fulfil his personal ambition to rule”.

The trial took place behind closed doors and ended after only six sessions. A request by defence lawyers to call Prince Hamzah as a witness was denied.

A US-based lawyer hired by Awadallah’s family told the Associated Press on Sunday that the trial was “completely unfair” and that Awadallah had been tortured in detention. Prosecutors denied the claim.


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