King of Jordan intervenes in Paralympian sex case in Northern Ireland

 

The king of Jordan is taking a personal interest in the case of three members of his country's Paralympic team accused of sex offences during pre-Games training in Northern Ireland, a court heard today.

The Arab administration promised to bring the men back before the court in Coleraine, Co Londonderry, if bail was granted, district judge Richard Wilson was told.

He later released the three men on combined bail and sureties of £5,500 each. They have to make weekly contact with the Jordanian embassy in London before their next appearance in court on October 18.

Two wheelchair-using power-lifters - one a bronze medal winner at the Beijing Games - and a trainer have been accused of a series of charges, including sexual assault and voyeurism, following complaints by two girls and two women in Antrim.

The Jordanian team has been training in the town, about 22 miles from Belfast, in advance of the Paralympic Games starting next week.

The three were detained on Monday for questioning by detectives from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

A representative of the Jordanian government, counsellor Rulan Samara from the London embassy, told the court: "His majesty the King of Jordan (King Abdullah the Second) was inquiring about the matter and was asking about all the details."

She promised that the accused would be brought back for future court appearances in Northern Ireland by her government and offered a surety.

Power lifter Omar Sami Qaradhi, 31, lives in Barbados. He faces three charges of sexual assault, two against a child, and one of voyeurism after allegedly entering a women's changing room at the Antrim Forum leisure centre.

Police said he was identified by a girl aged 14 who claimed that on August 18 she posed for photos with him before he groped her between the legs in Antrim town centre.

The same day, a girl aged 16 said she was walking along the river path beside Antrim Forum, one of Northern Ireland's largest multi-sports centres, with a friend when their path was blocked by the three accused.

Police alleged that the girl was pushed by one of the men towards Omar, who placed his arm around her waist, tightening his grip, but then she ran away.

Tony Cahir, a solicitor for three accused, said Omar had not had any legs since birth and was incapable of sexual gratification.

Trainer Faisal Hammash, 35, is accused of inciting two girls to engage in sexual activity.

Mr Cahir said he was merely photographing the girls in the Antrim area, including on a riverside walk beside the Antrim Forum.

Power lifter Motaz Al Junaidi, 45, who won bronze at the last Paralympics in Beijing, is accused of sexual assault.

One of the alleged victims came forward and made claims against Motaz after police had begun their investigation and several days after the disputed incident.

Mr Cahir said wheelchair user Motaz was born with polio. He is married with four children.

He added: "Now the authorities seek to deny him that opportunity which is his life's ambition, to participate in the Paralympic Games and hopefully win a gold medal for his country.

"The consequences of denial of bail are quite disproportionate to the alleged hurt suffered."

Mr Cahir said there was a dearth of evidence on a number of the counts.

The Jordanian delegation arrived in Northern Ireland on August 8. The alleged offences took place between August 16 and 20.

Mr Cahir said Jordan was concerned and embarrassed by the allegations and was anxious to ensure that the athletes were permitted to participate in London.

In granting bail, the judge said he had listened very carefully to the assurances given by the Jordanian authorities and said the embarrassment over a non-appearance would greatly outweigh the monetary loss.

"I trust the assurances that have been given to me by the ambassador (Ms Samara) are such that that would not be required," said Mr Wilson.

The Jordanian Olympic and Paralympic committees both expressed regret at the charges and said they had confidence the defendants would get a fair hearing.

In a statement, the Jordan Olympic Committee said: "The Jordan Olympic Committee (JOC) deeply regrets hearing of these charges and treats allegations of this nature with the utmost seriousness because we have a zero tolerance on any misconduct.

"The JOC has full confidence in the British justice system and will remain in close contact with the Jordan Paralympic Committee, which has been co-operating with the Northern Irish authorities in their investigation.

"We are following developments closely through the Jordan embassy in the UK, which is providing consular support to the delegation on the ground."

The Jordan Paralympic Committee added: "The president and board of the Jordan Paralympic Committee (JPC) wish to convey their deep sense of regret and shock at the charges that have been lodged against three members of the Jordanian Paralympic team in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

"The JPC is confident that the court will act promptly and fairly in adjudicating the case. At the same time the JPC fully appreciates the severity of the charges and in no way wishes to belittle the matter in any way, shape or form.

"The JPC denounces in the strongest terms possible all types of harassment and abuse, and wishes to reaffirm that this type of abhorrent behaviour is totally and utterly unacceptable and is to be condemned at all times."

News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world