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Gov’t reactivates death penalty, executes 11 murderers

By Rana Husseini - Dec 21,2014 - Last updated at Dec 21,2014

AMMAN — Prison authorities on Sunday executed 11 men convicted of murders, a move that signals reinstating the death penalty in Jordan that has been frozen since March 2006.

The executions, which were carried out at Swaqa Correctional and Rehabilitation Centre (SCRC) at dawn, started at 4am and ended at 7:45am, said Amman Public Attorney Ziad Dmour.

“All the individuals who were executed on Sunday were convicted by the Criminal Court in 2005 and 2006 of committing heinous premeditated murders with some murdering more than two people,” Dmour told The Jordan Times.

The official confirmed that no women or any defendants that were sentenced to death by the State Security Court were part of the group that was executed.

“The majority of the executed were calm with many voicing regret for what they did, asking for God’s forgiveness for what they did and asking for God’s mercy for their victims,” added Dmour, who was part of a government team that attended the executions.

The hangings were carried out “trouble-free”. “We did not face any issues with the convicted or the procedure itself,” the official explained.

Dmour confirmed that there are 113 individuals, including 12 women, who are awaiting execution in Jordan.

“The executions are carried out after the Cassation Court upholds the Criminal Court’s ruling and the case is sent to the Cabinet for endorsement and finally a Royal Decree should be issued to approve the execution,” Dmour said.

The names of the convicted who were executed at SCRC, according to the Jordan News Agency, Petra, were Samir Izzat Kawash, Mahmoud Walid Daghmeh, Khalid Husni Badri, Abdullah Mohammad Zayout, Saeed Fayez Talalzah, Mohammad Abdul Wahab Arami, Motaz Yousef, Ammar Ahmad, Omar Ahmad, Bader Shaheen Shakhatreh and Naem Ahmad Jaarat.

“Although the executions came as a surprise to the public, these individuals certainly deserve to be executed for the horrible murders they committed,” said Dmour, who was also part of a committee that examined the convicts’ files few days before the executions were carried out. 

Two of the convicts, Motaz Yousef and Ammar Ahmad, were sentenced to death in February 2006 after being convicted of raping and murdering their friend in May 2004.

 The two men, who were in their early 20s at the time of the murder, consumed alcohol with the victim in a deserted area of the Jordan Valley.
“Ammar wanted revenge from the victim because he attempted to kill him a year earlier so they lured him to a deserted area where they increased the alcohol dose for him in order to rape and kill him,” the court said in its ruling then.
The two men tied the victim’s hands with his belt, raped him then crushed his head with a wooden stick, alcohol bottles and a large rock that weighed around 40 kilos, until they made sure he was dead, the court said.

Another convicted man who was executed on Sunday, Omar Ahmad, was sentenced to death by the Criminal Court in April 2005 after he was found guilty of shooting and robbing Khalid Mustafa and Bassam Shukri in a deserted area of Naour in August 2003.

Ahmad, who was a tobacco company employee, along with another man who was sentenced to 15 years decided to rob the company’s accountant and a sales representative, court transcripts said.

The two men lured the victims to a deserted area where Ahmad shot both nine times, took a bag containing JD9,302 that was in the van and set the van ablaze, according to court papers. 

Interior Ministry Spokesperson Ziad Zubi said the government decided to reinstate the capital punishment as “a deterrent, especially since it has become a public demand following the occurrence of dozens of murders in our society”.

“We have been studying the idea of reapplying the death penalty in Jordan after witnessing an increase in murders and witnessing a rising public demand to reapply it; we took into consideration that execution is also sanctioned by Islamic Sharia,” Zubi said.

Several local organisations criticised the decision.

The National Centre for Human Rights (NCHR) issued a statement expressing regret over the “new circumstances and the conditions that led to commencing the executions in Jordan”.

The NCHR urged authorities to ensure the application of just trials for individuals as stipulated in human rights conventions and urged the government to sign the international protocols that calls for ending capital punishment.

Adaleh Centre for Human Rights Studies (ACHRS) also issued a statement condemning the executions.

The ACHRS voiced its rejection of the death penalty at a national level because “it is a tough and arbitrary punishment that is irreversible and a major human rights violation”.

Meanwhile, the Lower House’s Islamic Centrist Bloc hailed the executions saying “it complies with the rulings of our religion and is a punishment for those who committed actions that are in violation of the law and norms”.

The news of the 11 executions was met mostly with public approval based on comments made by people on Twitter, Facebook and media outlets that reported the hangings.

Manar Sawiss wrote on Facebook in response to a post by one of her friends: “It is better that they execute them instead of sentencing them to 15 years and then they are released [via an amnesty] on the first religious or national occasion.”

Journalist Rakan Saaydeh wrote on his Facebook page that he was against the death penalty.

“I am not with the death penalty although I am aware of how ugly murders are.  But getting life imprisonment is not an easy thing.  Execution will not deter anyone as we might expect.  It is like death that shakes us for a while then we forget all about it,” Saaydeh wrote. 

The convicts’ bodies were transferred to the National Institute of Forensic Medicine and their families were notified to arrange for the burials, Zubi said.
In November, a special committee was formed by the government to examine whether or not to reinstate capital punishment in Jordan.

The issue of capital punishment has been under debate in Jordan between activists who oppose the death penalty and other officials and lawyers who believe it should stay.
Several people have been on death row for a long time, including one inmate who has been there since the mid-1970s on spying charges, officials have said in the past.
Article 93 of the Constitution reads that “no death sentence may be carried out unless ratified by the King. Every such sentence shall be submitted to him by the Council of Ministers along with the council’s view on it”.

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