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House panel to request expediting Kurdi extradition efforts

By Khaled Neimat - Feb 27,2014 - Last updated at Feb 27,2014

AMMAN — Several MPs on Thursday called on the authorities to proceed with their efforts to extradite Walid Kurdi, the former chairman of the Jordan Phosphate Mines Company who was sentenced to 37.5 years imprisonment with hard labour.

Kurdi, who was tried in absentia, was found guilty of charges of “abuse of office” and embezzlement in the verdict, which was issued in June 2013. 

During the Lower House Integrity Committee’s meeting with Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) President Samih Bino and Audit Bureau President Mustafa Barari on Thursday, deputies said the government can use a legal assistance agreement with the UK to facilitate Kurdi’s extradition to Jordan.

Kurdi is said to be currently residing in the UK.

Under the agreement with Britain, Jordan brought back the radical Muslim cleric Mahmoud Othman, known as Abu Qatada, from Britain. 

The Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal Matters between Jordan and the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, was endorsed by Parliament in mid-2013, after which authorities managed to bring Abu Qatada back home.

The government has used the agreement to seize funds in Britain belonging to Kurdi.

Sources close to the former phosphate company chairman and CEO said he is not planning to come back to Jordan, although the law gives him the right to seek a retrial.

Thursday’s meeting with the heads of the ACC and the Audit Bureau was held to examine progress in the work of the two organisations.

Panel members decided to recommend that the Lower House push the government to submit draft amendments to the Audit Bureau Law, in order to grant it the status of judicial police and financial and administrative independence. 

This recommendation was based on a request by Barari, who informed MPs of the obstacles facing his team and preventing them from carrying out their duties properly. 

The MPs told the two officials that the committee wants to listen to their feedback on certain corruption cases of high interest to the public. 

Bino said the ACC will keep the committee informed of all the progress and the regressions in these cases, inviting the deputies to visit the ACC and look into the files it is currently investigating.

Deputy Mustafa Rawashdeh (Karak, 5th District), who heads the committee, said the aim of the meeting was to encourage more efforts to combat corruption and to examine the latest developments in some major corruption cases including Kurdi’s case.

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