Jordan court acquits radical Abu Qatada

Abu Qatada is acquitted in a case related to a 1998 plot to attack the American school in Amman

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A Jordan military court acquitted on Thursday radical preacher Abu Qatada in the so-called “Reform and Challenge” case related to a 1998 plot to carry out terrorist attacks including one on the American school in Amman.

The military court in Amman ruled that the 53-year-old Abu Qatada was innocent for lack of evidence against him.

Abu Qatada was extradited from Britain last year following a lengthy process to face trial in Jordan. He had pleaded not guilty to all charges against him.

The radical preacher will still be held as he faces a second set of terrorism charges, involving plots to attack Israelis, Americans and other Westerners in Jordan in 2000. The court said would deliver its verdict in that case in September.

“The court did not find evidence to support charges against Omar Mahmud Mohammed Otman (Abu Qatada) that he conspired in late 1998 to carry out a terror attack on the American school in Amman,” judge Ahmad Qatarneh said in a ruling.

“Based on that, the court unanimously declares the innocence of Omar Mahmud Mohammed Otman for lack evidence,” added Qatarneh, before asking journalists to leave the court.

The cleric burst into tears when the judge made the ruling and members of his family rushed to hug and kiss him.

Abu Qatada, a Palestinian-born preacher, was condemned to death in absentia in 1999 by an Amman court for conspiracy to carry out terror attacks. The sentence was immediately commuted to life imprisonment with hard labor.

A year later, he was sentenced in absentia to 15 years for plotting to attack tourists in Jordan during millennium celebrations.

After being extradited from Britain last July, he is now appearing in a retrial and has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The court adjourned the trial until September 7.

[With AFP]

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