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Columnist’s killer sentenced to death

By Rana Husseini - Dec 20,2016 - Last updated at Dec 20,2016

AMMAN — The State Security Court on Tuesday sentenced a 49-year-old man to death for assassinating Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar in front of the Palace of Justice in Amman in September.

The court declared the defendant, Riad Abdullah, guilty of carrying out subversive acts that led to the death of an individual, conducting terrorist acts that could lead to turmoil, premeditated murder and possessing an unlicensed weapon.

The court also sentenced two men to one year in prison each, for selling the suspect the murder weapon, and for facilitating its sale.

Hattar, who was facing trial for sharing a caricature that was considered insulting to religious beliefs and feelings, was on his way to attend a hearing, accompanied by family members, when he was assassinated in front of the courthouse in late September.

The caricature depicted a bearded man in heaven, smoking and in bed with women, asking a figure resembling God to bring him wine and cashews.

The defendant, a 49-year-old resident of east Amman, was known for his extremist thoughts and behaviour, officials have said.

Abdullah said in his initial confession to police that he “targeted Hattar after hearing that he posted an offensive caricature on his Facebook page and decided to kill him”, according to court papers.

The defendant decided to buy a gun one week before the incident and on that Sunday, he headed to the Palace of Justice and “the minute he saw him he shot him”, the court papers added.

We were expecting this punishment and this is the least we expect.  The killer must be killed,” said Saad Hattar, a relative of the deceased writer.

 He added that the victim’s family still waits for the “provocateurs and individuals who failed to secure the safety of Nahed to be brought to justice as well”.

 

Shortly following the assassination, the Cabinet directed the interior and the justice ministers to follow up on the investigation, and to ensure that justice is served, stressing that swift measures would be taken against those who use the issue to promote hate speech. 

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