Court rejects lawsuit against ministers

Court rejects lawsuit against ministers

By Rana Husseini

AMMAN – Members of a political party who filed a lawsuit against the premier and other ministers for allowing convicted businessman Khalid Shahin to leave Jordan said they plan to examine their options after the court rejected their lawsuit.

Abdul Karim Naamneh, who is represented by lawyer Faris Rousan, filed a lawsuit at the Amman Reconciliation Court on May 4 against Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit and several members of his Cabinet seeking “financial, mental and ethical compensation for the Jordanian people”.

Both Naamneh and Rousan are members of the Jordanian National Movement Party.

The court, headed by Judge Yahia Zawahreh, decided on Sunday that the case “does not fall within its jurisdiction”.

“We have proved our point that the judicial system is crippled and cannot try top-level officials,” Rousan told The Jordan Times on Monday.

“Our party plans to examine its options and see what our next step will be,” he added.

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.

Other officials named in the charge sheet include Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Saad Hayel Srour, and the former justice and health ministers, Hussein Mjalli and Yassin Husban.

Last week, Mjalli and Husban tendered their resignations out of “moral responsibility” on the backdrop of the case.

The charge sheet, which accused 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 has 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.

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.

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