AMMAN: Jordan’s military State Security Court (SSC) prosecutor on Thursday asked the court to inflict the highest punishment on Bassem Awadallah and Sharif Hassan bin Zaid over their alleged involvement in a high-profile sedition case.
Awadallah, a former chief of the Jordanian Royal Court, and bin Zaid, a distant royal family member, are standing trial at the SSC on charges of plotting to undermine the regime and the country’s security and stability.
The two men were arrested on April 3 along with 15 other people suspected of involvement in the case, which also involved Prince Hamzah, a half-brother of Jordan’s King Abdullah.
Jordanian authorities said that Awadallah, bin Zaid and Prince Hamzah were attempting to destabilize Jordan in collaboration with “foreign entities.”
Prince Hamzah’s case has been settled within the Hashemite family on directives from King Abdullah.
The Jordanian Royal Court published a letter signed by Prince Hamzah in which he vowed allegiance to the monarch and confirmed that he would act “always for His Majesty and his crown prince to help and support.”
The charge sheet against Awadallah and bin Zaid said the two defendants were long-time friends because of the nature of their work and connection to Prince Hamzeh.
Prince Hamzeh was seeking to become the ruler of Jordan and “took advantage of certain incidents, including the COVID-19 pandemic, to create chaos and frustration in the country,” the charge sheet added
Their strategy included attacks and criticisms of King Abdullah “with the hope of gaining popular support.”
Awadallah and bin Zaid pleaded not guilty during their opening trial earlier this month. Both suspects presented written statements to the SSC on Sunday.
The SSC prosecution sheet also included a charge against bin Zaid of possessing illegal narcotics (hashish).
During Thursday’s fifth closed-door session, the defense team asked the SSC for time to prepare their closing arguments, according to the state-run news agency Petra.
The SSC, which looks into cases related to terrorism and state security, set next Tuesday as the date for the trial.
Awadallah’s lawyer, Mohammad Afif, was quoted by government-owned Al-Mamlakah TV on Wednesday as saying that the defense team has requested that princes Hamzah, Hashemite and Ali be summoned as witnesses along with Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi.
Afif, a former SSC president, did not elaborate, but sources familiar with the case told Arab News that the SSC turned down the request.
According to lawyers, the two defendants could receive prison terms of three to 20 years if convicted on charges of incitement and sedition.