Jordanian soldier gets life for killing 3 US trainers

Maarik Al-Tawaiha (C) is led out of court following his trial, for the killing of three American military trainers outside an army base last year, on July 17, 2017, in the Jordanian capital Amman. (AFP)
Updated 17 July 2017
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Jordanian soldier gets life for killing 3 US trainers

Amman: A Jordanian court on Monday sentenced a soldier to life imprisonment over the killing of three American military trainers outside an army base last year.
The military court in Amman found 39-year-old Maarik Al-Tawaiha guilty of shooting the trainers as they waited to enter the King Faisal base at Al-Jafr in southern Jordan on November 4.
The charge sheet did not indicate that he had any ties to militant groups.
US embassy staff and relatives of the victims were present at Monday’s hearing, which took place under heavy security.
The court sentenced Tawaiha to “hard labor for life,” a term that usually lasts 20 years but could stretch to a full lifetime, a judicial official told an AFP correspondent at the courthouse.
It also demoted him from sergeant to second private and threw him out of military service.
The prosecution in June accused him of “voluntary manslaughter” over the deaths of Matthew Lewellen, Kevin McEnroe and James Moriarty.
He was also charged with “insulting the dignity and reputation of the armed forces and violating military orders.”
Tawaiha had been in custody since November but denied the charges.
The court had heard evidence from base guards and forensic experts.
In its ruling, the court said the incident had happened when vehicles carrying the trainers approached the gate of the base.
At that moment, there was “a low sound of gunfire from a distant and unknown source.”
Tawaiha, who was in a guard post at the gate, told the court he had opened fire on the cars carrying the American trainers because he suspected an attack on the base.
The court said he “fired a full magazine of ammunition... intending to kill them after it was clear to him who they were and that they were American personnel.”
It said he had disobeyed orders by failing to follow rules of engagement before opening fire.
The incident left three Americans dead and wounded a Jordanian soldier.
The King Faisal air base hosts trainers of various nationalities including Americans.
Jordan, which hosts some 2,200 American military personnel, is a key American ally and a member of the US-led coalition fighting the Daesh group in neighboring Syria and Iraq.


Hundreds of jobs axed in PLO cutback

Updated 22 April 2018
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Hundreds of jobs axed in PLO cutback

  • Among the departments to be axed from the PLO are social affairs, military, Jerusalem, sports, youth and the diaspora
  • Most of the PNC’s budget goes to pay salaries to staff who have little work to do

AMMAN: Hundreds of staff who are paid salaries but do little work will lose their jobs in a major downsizing of the Palestine Liberation Organization. 

The restructuring is aimed at ending the duplication of tasks by the PLO and the Palestinian government, and reducing the size of the 700-member Palestine National Council, which is expected to lose half its staff and half its budget. 

Among the departments to be axed from the PLO are social affairs, military, Jerusalem, sports, youth and the diaspora. Those that deal with refugees, planning, culture, media and the national fund will remain.

“Why do we need staff and offices in the PLO for such areas as social affairs and education, when we have major ministries in the government that are focusing on these areas?” Hanna Amireh, a member of the PLO’s executive committee, told Arab News. 

“When the PLO was responsible for all Palestinian affairs, this made sense, but now we have a government with relevant ministries and it doesn’t make sense to have such duplication.”

Most PLO staff belong to the various factions that make up the organization, and have been on the payroll for many years. This arrangement allowed these factions to provide jobs for their members. 

PLO sources told Arab News that the restructuring would also affect the Palestine National Council. The PNC holds occasional extraordinary meetings, but its full regular session scheduled for April 30 will be the first for 22 years.

Most of the PNC’s budget goes to pay salaries to staff who have little work to do. “The membership of the PNC will have to be cut in half, as will its budget,” a PLO source said. 

Najeeb Qaddoumi, a PNC member and senior Fatah activist in Jordan, confirmed that a restructuring would take place on April 30 but denied that it would be downsizing. “Some departments might be eliminated and others might be boosted,” he said.

Ali Qleibo, an artist, author and lecturer at Al Quds University, said the PLO had “exhausted its role since Lebanon and has caused chaos in the land.”

The downsizing will surprise analysts who had expected the Palestinians to revitalize the PLO after the failure of the peace process and the lack of trust in the Palestinian Authority.