SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 1 August 2021, Sunday |

Defense in Jordan trial to ask court to invite Prince Hamza to testify

The defense team of a former confidant of King Abdullah, who is on trial on charges of inciting to overthrow the monarchy, said on Wednesday that Jordan’s Prince Hamza is among the witnesses who would be called to testify.

According to Mohamed Afif, the court will decide whether or not to call Prince Hamza, the king’s half-brother, as a witness.

“We’ll question 25 witnesses, including Prince Hamza,” Afif stated. The trial began behind closed doors last week, with authorities claiming that the proceedings were kept confidential owing to the sensitivity of the issue.

The scandal shocked Jordan when it surfaced in March, because it appeared to expose rifts within the ruling Hashemite family that has been a symbol of stability in a volatile region in recent years.

Hamza, the estranged prince at the center of the trial, was accused of liaising with parties with foreign links to undermine the authority of the king.

He avoided punishment last April after pledging allegiance to the king, defusing a crisis that led to his house arrest.

The two defendants, Bassem Awadallah and Sherif Hassan Zaid, are accused of plotting to destabilize the kingdom’s political structure, as well as acts that endanger public safety and fostering sedition. Both have entered not guilty pleas.

Both are punishable by up to 30 years in jail if convicted.

The constitutionality of a trial in which the primary defendant, Prince Hamza, has not been charged has been questioned by several legal experts and civic groups. They claim the special court is not independent of the judiciary and does not follow fair trial rules.

The authorities claim that the trial is proceeding in a fair manner.