Amman – Abu Qatada has been cleared of plotting a terrorism attack on the American school in Amman for lack of evidence – but the cleric faces other terrorism charges and will remain in prison.
“The court did not find evidence to support charges against [Abu Qatada] that he conspired in late 1998 to carry out a terror attack on the American school in Amman,” Ahmad Qatarneh, the judge in the case, said on Thursday.
“Based on that, the court unanimously declares the innocence of [Abu Qatada] for lack evidence.”
The Salafi cleric had denied the charges and rejected a claim by another suspect in the case that he had issued a religious decree calling on followers to attack schools. The court found that the second suspect’s claims were not sufficient proof to convict Abu Qatada.
But the cleric, who was extradited from the UK last year, will continue to be held because of separate charges related to a plot to attack tourists during Jordan’s New Year celebrations in 2000.
His son, Qatada, told Al Jazeera the family was happy with Thursday’s ruling but “justice remains incomplete”.
“We congratulate the Muslim nation generally, but the Salafist movement specially, the innocence of Shiekh Abu Qatada from charges against him in this case as we hope for his release soon,” Abu Sayyaf, a Jordanian Salafist leader, told Al Jazeera.
His lawyer, Ghazi Thunaibat, said he was “relieved” by the verdict, but could not give any further comments in order not to “jeopardise the court ruling for the next case”.
Abu Qatada, who was born in Bethlehem, was deported by Britain to Jordan in July 2013 after almost a decade-long legal battle. He arrived facing retrials on the two cases.
Areej Abuqudairi contributed to this report.
Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies