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Middle East

Jordan court denies bail to Muslim preacher

Jordanian military court refused bail for Abu Qatada, the Muslim cleric recently extradited to the country from the UK.

Last Modified: 21 Jul 2013 18:43
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Abu Qatada pleaded not guilty to the charge of "conspiracy to carry out terrorist acts" [Reuters]

A military court has rejected a bail application by Muslim preacher Abu Qatada, who faces terror charges in Jordan following his deportation from Britain, his lawyer said.

"The state security court today refused to release Abu Qatada on bail," Taysir Diab said on Sunday.

"The court gave no reason for its decision. I will meet with Abu Qatada on Wednesday to look into the issue and decide future steps," Diab said, without elaborating.

The court's decision was expected, despite government promises to release him on bail.

Mohammad Shalabi, Jordanian Salafist leader

Abu Qatada, 53, was charged on July 7 with "conspiracy to carry out terrorist acts", just hours after his deportation from Britain. He pleaded not guilty.

The next day, Diab asked the military tribunal to release the Palestinian-born preacher on bail.

Jordanian law gives him the right to a retrial with him present in the dock, but the date for such a trial has not yet been set.

He is currently in the Muwaqqar prison, a maximum security facility that houses more than 1,000 inmates, most of them Islamists convicted of terror offences.

"The court's decision was expected, despite government promises to release him on bail," Jordanian Salafist leader Mohammad Shalabi, better known as Abu Sayyaf, told AFP.

Abu Qatada was condemned to death in absentia in 1999 for conspiracy to carry out terror attacks, including on the American school in Amman.

But the sentence was immediately commuted to life imprisonment with hard labour.

In 2000, he was sentenced in his absence to 15 years for plotting to attack tourists in Jordan during millennium celebrations.

Britain's expulsion of Abu Qatada came after Amman and London last month ratified a treaty guaranteeing that evidence obtained by torture would not be used in his retrial.

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