Amman — Jordanian Court of Cassation, highest judicial committee in Joradn, upheld December’s State Security Court (SSC) ruling sentencing a 49-year-old man to death for assassinating Jordanian author Nahed Hattar in front of the Palace of Justice on September 25 of last year.
In September 2016, SSC declared the defendant, Riad Abdullah, guilty of carrying out subversive acts that led to the death of an individual, conducting terrorist acts that could lead to turmoil, premeditated murder and possessing an unlicensed weapon.
The defendant’s lawyer, Bashir Aqli, challenged the verdict at the Court of Cassation on January 18 saying that this case is not within the jurisdiction of the court of the SSC. He also claimed that the court made a mistake when it accused his client without taking into consideration the motive.
The convicted killer was known for his extremist thoughts and behavior, officials have said.
Hattar, who was facing trial for sharing a caricature that was considered insulting to religious beliefs and feelings, was on his way to attend a hearing, accompanied by family members, when he was assassinated in front of the courthouse.
The caricature depicted a bearded man in heaven, smoking and in bed with two women, asking a figure resembling God to bring him wine and cashews.
Abdullah said in his initial statement to police that he “targeted Hattar after hearing that he posted an offensive caricature on his Facebook page and decided to kill him,” according to court papers.
The defendant decided to buy a gun one week before the incident, and on that Sunday he went to the Palace of Justice and “the minute he saw him, he shot him”, the court papers added.
The court had also sentenced two men to one year in prison each, for selling the suspect the murder weapon and for facilitating its sale.
The Cassation Court has upheld the rulings and said that the defendant got what he deserved, because his murder is not consistent with our social norms or traditions and could have resulted in friction within segments of our community, a senior judicial source said.
The source added that this is not a precedent in Jordan, because it is not acceptable for violence and terrorism to target free speech.
Once a death sentence is upheld by the Court of Cassation, the case is sent to the Cabinet for endorsement and a Royal Decree is then issued to approve the execution.