Last updated: 10 May, 2012

Jordan vows fair retrial of Abu Qatada if he is deported from Britain

Jordan said Thursday that Islamist cleric Abu Qatada, accused of ties to late Al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden, will face a “fair” retrial in the Middle East country if Britain deports him.

“Abu Qatada is a Jordanian citizen and if the British authorities extradite him to the kingdom, he will get a fair retrial here,” Samih Maaytah, Jordan’s information minister and government spokesman, told AFP.

“It is standard procedure to retry Abu Qatada according to Jordanian laws, and in an impartial and independent way, in line with international standards that protect human rights.”

Abu Qatada lost his bid Wednesday for top European Court of Human Rights judges to hear his appeal against Britain’s efforts to extradite him to Jordan, which has given Britain reassurances to allay the European court’s concerns.

The ruling means Britain can now press ahead with attempts to deport him to Jordan, where the military state security court convicted him in his absence in 1998 for involvement in terror attacks.

Top Salafist leader in Jordan Abed Shehadeh, known as Abu Mohammad Tahawi, has condemned the decision, saying “Abu Qatada’s life would be definitely in danger if Britain extradites him to Jordan.”

Shehadeh insisted Abu Qatada had “nothing to do” with the crimes of which he is accused, saying Jordanian “assurances do not mean anything.”

“The state security court’s integrity is questionable,” he said, without elaborating on why he believed Abu Qatada’s life to be in danger.

Rights group Amnesty International said following the ruling that it “continues to believe that Abu Qatada would face a real risk of torture or other ill-treatment on return to Jordan.”

“Unenforceable, bilateral diplomatic assurances from one government to another do not provide a reliable safeguard against the real risk of torture or other such ill-treatment, particularly when given by a country like Jordan where, as noted by the European Court … torture remains ‘widespread and routine’,” it added in a statement.

It said it has not seen “any evidence to indicate that trials before the state security court are no longer conducted in an unfair manner, or that the military … character of the court has been so fundamentally altered that the tribunal now meets the requirements of independence and impartiality …”