Amman drops murder charge against journalist

A Jordanian military prosecutor has dropped charges of premeditated murder against a Japanese photographer involved in a deadly airport blast.

    The scene of the blast

    State security court prosecutor Mohannad Hijazi brought new charges against the news photographer Hiroki Gomi, 36, whose trial is to begin on Tuesday.

     

    Gomi now stands accused of illegal possession of explosives leading to the unintentional death and unintentional harm of an individual.

     

    Airport security agent Ali Sarhan was killed on 1 May when he tried to examine an explosive device which Gomi had brought from Iraq as a war memento.

      

    The photographer was preparing to board a plane from Amman to Cairo.

     

    Profuse apology

      

    The prosecutor's decision to change the indictment comes after Sarhan's family decided to drop charges against Gomi.

     

    Gomi's employer, the Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun,  apologised profusely for the incident. Senior executives led by the president of the daily newspaper, Akira Saito, visited Jordan to offer condolences to the victim's family.

     

    King Abdullah has called the
    death an accident

    Jordanian officials say they expect Gomi to get a fair trial.  King Abdullah II has described Sarhan's death as accidental.

      

    "What happened was accidental and the security guard's family belong to a Jordanian tribe known for their generosity and their forgiveness," the king told Akira Saito. 

     

    Illegal possession of explosives is a crime punishable by a minimum of seven-and-a-half years in prison and a maximum of 15 years. The second and third parts of the indictment are misdemeanours.

     

    Earlier this month the prosecutor had charged Gomi with "premeditated murder, unauthorised possession of explosives, damage, and harm to the property of a third party."

      

    Conviction for premediated murder is punishable by death.

      

     

    The prosecutor modified his indictment after reviewing Gomi's testimony in which he admitted possession of an explosive device but said he did not think it would go off.


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