Citizen files lawsuit against four ministers in connection with Shahin case
By Rana Husseini
AMMAN – A citizen on Tuesday filed a lawsuit at the Amman Reconciliation Court against Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit and other ministers for allowing convicted businessman Khalid Shahin to leave the Kingdom in February.
Shahin, who was serving a three-year term in prison for bribery in connection with the Jordan Petroleum Refinery Company expansion project, was granted permission to travel abroad for treatment after his health deteriorated in prison.
“One of the reasons we decided to file the lawsuit was to prove that the judicial system is crippled and cannot try top-level officials,” said Faris Rousan, who is representing the plaintiff, Abdul Karim Naamneh.
The lawyer said he and Naamneh are members of the Jordanian National Movement Party, which initially decided to file the lawsuit against the premier and his government seeking “financial, mental and ethical compensation for the Jordanian people”.
Other officials named in the charge sheet include Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Saad Hayel Srour, Minister of Justice Hussein Mjalli and Minister of Health Yassin Husban.
The charge sheet, which accuses the four ministers of abuse and misuse of public office, stated that the government allowed Shahin to go abroad although “his medical status did not require him to leave the country to seek treatment”.
“Jordan always boasted of being a destination for patients from around the world seeking medical treatment and that one of the Kingdom’s assets was medical tourism; so how come Shahin was allowed to leave when the government had this excellent medical reputation,” the charge sheet said.
It also questioned why the government allowed Shahin to leave when he was involved in another corruption case.
In mid-April, the State Security Court decided to freeze the assets of Shahin and his family in connection with accusations of corruption in the Disi Water Conveyance Project feasibility study.
The tribunal has set May 29 to start hearing the case, Rousan said, adding that “most probably the court will declare that it cannot try these officials and refer the case to a special council, which consists of five senators and four senior judges. But I doubt that they will convene to try them”.
Srour previously said that the decision to allow the jailed businessman to travel abroad for treatment was taken after referring his case to the ministries of health and justice and receiving guarantees from his family to ensure he returns to Jordan, noting that the decision is in line with the Correctional and Rehabilitation Centres Law.