A Jordanian court sentenced to fifteen years in prison on Monday, July 12, two former senior officials accused of wanting to overthrow King Abdullah II in favor of his half-brother, Prince Hamza. An unprecedented crisis that shook the Hashemite kingdom in April.
Main protagonist in this case, Prince Hamza was not tried during this trial which was interested in the cases of Bassem Awadallah, former head of the royal office, and Cherif Hassan Ben Zaid. Accused of having taken part in the conspiracy, of having “Worked against the safety and security of Jordanian society” and “To have incited to sedition”, both men had pleaded not guilty.
On Monday, the State Security Court, a military tribunal whose magistrates are partly civilians, announced that it had sentenced them to fifteen years in prison. They were found guilty of“Incentive [à agir] against the political regime of the kingdom “, d’“Acts likely to endanger the safety and security of society and sedition”. They could face up to twenty years in prison.
According to the indictment, Prince Hamza, 41, “Was determined to fulfill his personal ambition to rule, in violation of customs and the Hashemite Constitution”. Prince Hamza has reportedly sought help from Saudi Arabia, the same source said. MM. Awadallah and Ben Zaid are closely linked to the Saudi kingdom: Mr. Awadallah holds its nationality and Mr. Ben Zaid was a special envoy of the Jordanian king there for a time. Neighboring regional power, Saudi Arabia had firmly denied being involved in this unprecedented crisis and had expressed its support « total » to the king.
Appointed Crown Prince in 1999 but removed from his post in 2004 by King Abdullah who appointed his own son instead, Hamza accused his country’s authorities of « corruption » and D’“Incompetence” in a video released by the BBC on April 3. He then claimed to have been under house arrest for his alleged participation in a “Plot”, however denying this accusation.
The government announced the next day the arrest of eighteen people involved in this attempt to “Undermine the security and stability of Jordan”. Sixteen of them have since been released. Prince Hamza will not stand trial as his case was resolved within the royal family after he pledged allegiance to the king and pledged to “Remain faithful to him”.
The trial of the two defendants was held behind closed doors in the capital, Amman. The court rejected a request by defense lawyers to summon three princes, as well as the prime minister, Bicher Al-Khasawneh, and the foreign minister, Aymane Safadi, as witnesses. A request « non productive », according to the Court.
At the start of the prosecution, Mr. Awadallah’s lawyer, Mohamed Afif, claimed that the two accused “Insisted that Prince Hamza testify in this affair”. “The final decision rests with the court, but if he refuses to make him appear, he must justify it”, he said at the end of June. According to Alaa Al-Khasawneh, lawyer for Mr. bin Zaid, the defense had asked the Court to ” to declare [les] two innocent customers ”.
Bassem Awadallah, former minister of finance and planning, was very close to the Jordanian king. Before becoming head of the royal court in 2007, he had served as chief of the king’s cabinet in 2006. He finally resigned as head of the royal court in 2008 after being sharply criticized for his alleged interference in political matters and controversial economics.