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Higher court upholds Jordanian soldier life sentence

By Rana Husseini - Aug 04,2017 - Last updated at Aug 04,2017

AMMAN — The Military Appeals Court on Thursday upheld a July life sentence passed on a Jordanian soldier, after he was convicted by a military court of killing three US officers at an army base in Jafer in November.

Maarek Sami Tawayha shot dead three US Special Forces instructors outside the King Faisal Airbase in Jafer, Maan, some 300km south of Amman, on November 4.

“The higher court upheld the verdict and we respect its decision,” Tawayha’s lawyer, Subhi Mawwas, told The Jordan Times.

Mawwas, who was the president of the State Security Court a few years ago, told The Jordan Times that he contested the verdict last month stating that his client “did not intend to kill anyone and was only defending the military base”.

Shortly after the verdict was announced in mid-July, hundreds of people from the defendant’s tribe, the Hweitat, drove from Maan to Amman to protest the court’s verdict, calling for Tawayha’s release insisting that “the verdict was politically driven”.

The Hweitat family has continued demanding for his release and has held several meetings to discuss the court ruling. No protests have been reported after the higher court’s ruling Thursday by the time the story went to print. 

On July 25, the Jordan Armed Forces issued a statement outlining the details of the case. 

Meanwhile, a five-minute video of the incident was posted by a news website affiliated with the military.

The three US service members killed in the November attack were Special Forces soldiers from the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) located at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.  They have been identified as Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Lewellen, 27, Staff Sgt. Kevin J. McEnroe, 30, and Staff Sgt. James F. Moriarty, 27.

The court convicted Tawayha, a corporal, of manslaughter of more than one person and of violating the military orders and regulations.

The tribunal demoted the defendant and discharged him from military service.


In the charge sheet, the prosecution stated that the defendant failed to apply the rules of engagement when he shot dead the three men with his M16 at the gate of the Prince Faisal Airbase in Jafer, after he heard shooting from an unidentified source.
The prosecution added that the defendant confessed to shooting at the vehicles in which the three victims were while he was on duty. 

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