Politicians jailed for al-Zarqawi praise

Two Jordanian politicians have been jailed for comments they made about Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, at his wake.

    Al-Zarqawi was killed in a US air strike in Iraq on June 7

    A military court jailed Mohammed Abu Fares for two years and Ali Abu Sukkar for one-and-a-half years for "instigating sectarian strife and fuelling national discord" by praising al-Zarqawi.

    A third defendant, Jaafar al-Hourani, was acquitted due to lack of evidence and the court ruled on Sunday that he must be released immediately.

    The three defendants had pleaded innocent at the start of the trial in July.

    There were protests in Jordan after the three politicians paid their condolences at the family home of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi - who was born in Jordan - after he was killed by a US air strike in Iraq on June 7.

    Amman hotel blasts

    The al-Qaeda in Iraq leader is believed to have been involved in attacks on hotels in Amman last November in which three suicide bombers killed 60 people.

    The written verdict said Abu Fares had described al-Zarqawi as a "martyr", while Abu Sukkar praised his "martyrdom" and criticised the presence of the US-led multinational forces in Iraq.

    "The words went way beyond the ethics of condolences at a wake," the document said.

    Abu Fares denied that he had said al-Zarqawi was a martyr, but prosecution evidence included a video that showed him making the comment.

    The three men also argued that their visit to al-Zarqawi's home was not a crime and that the wake was not outlawed by the government.

    The politicians are part of the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood has rejected Abu Fares' comments and reiterated that it condemns the Amman hotel blasts.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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