Jordan hangs 15 men, including murderer of prominent writer

Jordan hangs 15 men, including murderer of prominent writer

Saturday, March 4, 2017 3:35 pm

Jordan hanged 15 men at dawn on Saturday, the largest number of executions carried out by the country in a single day in more than a decade.

One of the convicts was found guilty of killing leftist Christian writer Nahed Hattar in 2016 in Amman, a death that sent shock waves across Jordan and drew the condemnation of King Abdullah.

Hattar was shot dead by Riyad Ismail outside a court house in September as he was about to go on trial for blasphemy over a cartoon he posted online that mocked the Islamic State group.

Some Muslims found the drawing offensive because it also depicted God.

Ten of the 15 men were part of a terrorist cell behind several attacks, State Minister for Media Affairs Mohammad al-Momani said in a statement carried by Jordan’s official Petra news agency.

The attacks included the 2003 bombing of the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad as well as the 2006 attack at the Roman amphitheatre in Amman, which killed a British tourist.

The other five people executed were convicted of criminal charges and sexual assault.

The hangings were carried out at the Swaqa Correctional and Rehabilitation Centre, the statement added.

Amnesty International condemned the “scale and secrecy around these executions” as horrific.

“This is a major step backwards for both Jordan and efforts to end the death penalty, a senseless and ineffective means of administering justice,” said Samah Hadid, deputy director at Amnesty International’s Beirut office.

“Jordan had for years been a leading example in a region where recourse to the death penalty is all too frequent,” she added.

In 2005, King Abdullah II announced Jordan to become the first Middle Eastern country to halt executions. Starting 2006, several death sentences were handed down, but the government did not carry them out.

Executions were resumed in 2014, with officials arguing that capital punishment would help reduce the crime rate.

Jordan is generally a stable country but it is surrounded by neighbours in turmoil such as Iraq and Syria.

The kingdom is part of the U.S.-led military coalition against the Islamic State which has been carrying out airstrikes targeting the extremist group.(dpa/NAN)

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