It is the trial of the year in Jordan. Two senior officials of the Hashemite kingdom, accused of having sought to overthrow King Abdullah II for the benefit of his half-brother, Prince Hamza, appeared on Monday, June 21, before the State Security Court. Bassem Awadallah, former head of the royal court, and Cherif Hassan Ben Zaid, ex-special envoy of the Jordanian sovereign to Saudi Arabia, are on trial for “sedition”, a charge punishable by twenty years in prison.
The trial began at the end of the morning, behind closed doors, as journalists were not allowed to enter the courtroom. In a video shared on social media, Bassem Awadallah is seen arriving at court, dressed in a blue prisoner’s uniform, his hands cuffed behind his back, escorted by members of the special forces. The two defendants pleaded not guilty in front of their judges, who then heard two of the six prosecution witnesses, four soldiers and two civilians, before adjourning the hearing to Tuesday, June 22.
Prince Hamza, the main suspect in the case, which rocked the Hashemite dynasty for 48 hours in early April, will not be tried. King Abdullah, concerned about appeasement, forgave him, after he renewed his allegiance to him. But the image of the royal dignitary, aged 41, may suffer in the debates to come. In the indictment, which opportunely leaked to the media, he is accused of having sought to “To satisfy his personal ambition to reign, in violation of the Constitution and customs” from the country.
Much appreciated by his father, the late King Hussein, Hamza could have claimed his succession. But the brutal illness which cut short the reign of the charismatic monarch, prompted him to pass power in 1999 to Abdallah, eighteen years older than Hamza and therefore more experienced. The latter’s resentment was heightened five years later when the new king stripped him of his title of crown prince and gave it to his own son, Hussein.
“Hamza has never digested this disappointment”, argued in April Mustafa Hamarneh, a member of the Senate, the upper house of Parliament, whose members are appointed by royal decree. “Since that day, Abdallah has never stopped hearing the footsteps of his half-brother around him. »
According to the indictment, the prince would have sought to stir up the frustration of the population, faced with a violent economic crisis, exacerbated by the Covid-19 epidemic, in particular by means of tweets critical of the power, written by Bassem Awadallah . The 56-year-old former head of the royal court was reportedly chosen by Cherif Hassan Ben Zaid, “Friend and relative” Hamza, because of its network of relations abroad, in particular in Riyadh.
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