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Former head of Jordan’s royal court faces trial over alleged coup plot

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Bassem Awadallah, Jordan’s ex-royal court chief and finance minister

Former chief of Jordan’s royal court faces trial over an alleged coup plot against the Arab country’s King Abdullah II, state media reports say.

According to Jordan’s state media on Sunday, the military court will next week commence the trial of Bassem Awadallah, an ex-royal court chief and finance minister, over his purported role in an early-April coup bid, described by Amman as an attempt to destabilize security and stability in the Arab country.

The official Petra news agency further said the trial of Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, a distant relative of King Abdullah, would also be held next week over the same allegation.

Eighteen individuals, including Awadallah and bin Ziad, were arrested after authorities on April 3 announced that they had foiled a coup attempt by the suspects, but 16 were released later that month.

The suspects were arrested shortly after Prince Hamzah, former crown prince and King Abdullah II’s half-brother, was placed under house arrest after he was accused by Amman of involvement in a conspiracy to “destabilize the kingdom's security.”

He was accused of liaising with foreign parties to carry out the putsch.

Earlier that month, Hamzah, who was sidelined as heir to the throne in 2014, was reportedly warned by the military for his alleged undermining of the “security and stability” in the country.

The prince, for his part, had accused the kingdom's ruling system of corruption, incompetence, and harassment in a video message published by the BBC on April 3, when he claimed he had been placed under house arrest.

However, Hamzah pledged loyalty to King Abdullah II after mediation by the royal family, and the king said the purported sedition had been quashed, adding that Hamzah was “under my care” with his family at his palace.

According to the report, Awadallah and Zaid were formally charged with agitating to undermine Jordan’s political system and acts that threatened public security and sowing sedition.

The two charges carry up to 30 years of imprisonment, judicial sources said.

Jordan turned down Saudi Arabia’s request to hand over Awadallah, who holds Saudi nationality, Reuters quoted unnamed officials familiar with the affair as saying.

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