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Awadallah, Sharif Hassan to present statements to SSC Sunday — lawyer

By Rana Husseini - Jun 23,2021 - Last updated at Jun 23,2021

AMMAN — The lawyer of former minister Bassem Awadallah and Sharif Hassan Bin Zeid on Wednesday said they plan to prepare written statements to present to the court next week.

The two are standing trial at the State Security Court (SSC) on charges of sedition and plotting incitement acts against the regime.

"The defendants will write their statements and present it to the court during Sunday's session," former SSC presiding judge Mohammad Afif, who became a lawyer after retiring and is representing Awadallah, said.

They pleaded not guilty during their opening trial on Monday. The trial is being held in closed session.

The SSC prosecution sheet also included a charge against Sharif Hassan Bin Zeid of possessing illegal narcotics (hashish).

The court’s decision came in accordance with the laws pertaining to the relevant courts that allow the SSC to conduct the trial in secret without prejudice to the rules and procedures of the fundamental fair trial and the guarantees for the defence.

Afif said that he plans to summon five to 10 defence witnesses to testify before the court next week.

“I am going to provide the court with a list of people to be summoned to testify for the defendants and it is up to the court to accept or deny our request,” Afif told The Jordan Times.

The SSC prosecutor rested its case during Tuesday's session.

If convicted of charges of incitement and sedition, the two defendants could get between three and 20 years in prison, according to the lawyers.

Awadallah and Sharif Hassan Bin Zeid and other suspects in the case were arrested in April for “security reasons”.

The charge sheet said the two defendants were friends for a long time because of the nature of their work and connection to HRH Prince Hamzeh.

For a while, the charge sheet added, Prince Hamzeh was aiming to become the ruler of Jordan, which is against the Constitution and “took advantage of certain incidents in Jordan, including the COVID-19 pandemic, to create chaos and frustration in Jordan”.

The prince, backed by Sharif Hassan, launched "attacks and criticism against His Majesty the King with hopes of gaining popular support and eventually becoming the ruler of Jordan," according to the charge sheet.

Prince Hamzeh and Sharif Hassan Bin Zeid met on a regular basis to discuss means of achieving their goals and the latter suggested the name of Awadallah to help them with the needed international support to utilise their plot, the charge sheet said.

Awadallah also pushed Prince Hamzeh “to crticise and weaken the strong position of the King towards the Palestinian cause, the issue of Jerusalem and the Hashemite Custodianship of Jerusalem’s Islamic and Christian holy sites”, the charge sheet stated.

In March 2021, Prince Hamzeh took advantage of the oxygen outage at the New Salt Public Hospital that claimed the lives of eight patients to send hidden messages against the regime that was aimed to cause unrest, the charge sheet said.

“The prince recorded a five-minute video whereby he held King Abdullah accountable for what happened in the hospital and his ultimate aim was to provoke the public to revolt against the regime and clash with the security forces,” the charge sheet maintained.

On March 13, the SSC prosecution office received a tip-off that the two defendants were conducting suspicious activities that would undermine the safety and security of the country and they were put under surveillance for one month, the charge sheet said.

The SSC prosecution office intercepted several coded messages between the two defendants and Prince Hamzeh that were mainly encouraging him to “go ahead with the plans and used the letter ‘H’ in one of the messages as a sign to start the provocative movements”, the charge sheet added.

On April 3, the charge sheet continued, the defendants were arrested and their plans that would have caused “grave threat to the national security and stability of the country and the system were thwarted”.

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