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13 plead ‘not guilty’ as Salt terror cell trial kicks off

By Rana Husseini - Mar 25,2019 - Last updated at Mar 25,2019

AMMAN — Thirteen defendants standing trial at the State Security Court (SSC) on Monday pleaded not guilty to charges related to terrorist acts in the so-called Salt Cell case, which claimed the lives of six security personnel in August.

During their opening trial, the 10 men and three women pleaded not guilty to charges of manufacturing, possessing and using weapons and explosives in terrorist acts that led to the death of people.

Other charges included the demolition of a privately-owned building, joining terrorist groups and failing to report terrorist activities to the authorities.

A 14th defendant, facing the same charges, is being tried in absentia.

During the session, the SSC rejected a request by the defence team to refer some of their clients for medical check-ups on claims that they were subjected to torture and duress by the authorities.

The tribunal ruled that “the request by the lawyers is denied because it should have been submitted almost six months ago when the alleged torture took place”.

The charge sheet said the defendants exchanged and promoted information about the Daesh terror group and “eventually decided to form a cell to disturb the Kingdom’s stability and security and terrorise citizens”.

“The defendants decided to target vehicles transporting army personnel, police patrols, offices of security agencies and vital government institutions,” according to the charge sheet.

On August 10, 2018, some of the defendants allegedly manufactured explosives and planted it under a police patrol that was guarding the Fuheis festival, the charge sheet said.

The bomb exploded, killing two security officers and injuring several others, the charge sheet added.

Investigations led authorities to their hideout in a building in Salt and security officers surrounded the premises and demanded that the defendants turn themselves in, the charge sheet added.

Instead, the charge sheet maintained, the defendants “started shooting at the security force, which decided to storm the building”.

“The defendants had booby-trapped the building and the minute the force entered, they detonated the explosives killing four security officers and three of the cell members,” the charge sheet added.

More than 15 people were also injured in the raid. 

In the parameters of the stormed building, investigators found an unspecified quantity of explosives that were buried underground, according to the charge sheet.

The SSC decided to adjourn the session till next Monday to start hearing the prosecution’s witnesses in the case.

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