'He is a good man': Abu Qatada’s friends in Jordan say he should be sent home, not to jail

 

Amman

"My son is innocent and I hope the court will set him free," said Abu Qatada's 86-year old father, standing outside the State Security Courthouse in the outskirts of Amman, where the firebrand preacher appeared on Sunday, charged with conspiring to carry out terrorist attack in Jordan in 1999 and 2000.

That sentiment was echoed in Qatada’s neighbourhood in Amman. “It’s better that he comes back,” said a sheikh outside the mosque which the cleric, known here as Omar Othman, helped build. His father is a key figure at the mosque and most of his family live in the neighbourhood. “He should not go to jail but come back to his house here, behind the mosque,” interjected a neighbour. “He is a good man” he argued, adding that comparisons with Osama bin Laden were exaggerated.

The decrepit buildings and trash lined streets are a far cry from the £400,000 home the cleric rented with his five children in the UK while on state benefits.

The falafel restaurant owned by Qatada’s brother was open on Sunday. Another family member, who owns a small grocery shop nearby, declined to be interviewed.

“He didn’t participate in any violent act,” said Marwan Shahedeh, a friend and analyst, who said he was “optimistic” about the sheikh being released after his retrial. “Other convicted people were also released by public amnesty from King Abdullah,” he clarified. He said the sheikh was “clever enough” not to be charged with anything else in the future.

Qatada has been transferred to the Muwaqqar high security prison, a state of the art facility with sports fields, music rooms and a library. He will be detained there for 15 days pending trial. If convicted, it is widely believed he would serve his term in the facility as well. The comfortable surroundings are a gesture towards British concerns that the cleric would be mistreated while in Jordan.

However, former inmates speak of another prison in the complex, Muwaqqar 2, which has far harsher conditions.

Britain has appointed a charity, the Adaleh Center for Human Rights, to oversee the proceedings. A representative from Adaleh accompanied him from London and four officers have been assigned to his case.

The repatriation was hailed as a triumph by the Conservative party, which had vowed to expel him from the country. The cost of expelling the cleric to the British taxpayer is £1.7m, as Qatada appealed all the way up to the European Court of Human Rights.

Qatada claimed that extraditing him to Jordan would risk him being jailed using evidence obtained under torture. A treaty adopted by Jordan last week satisfied the concerns of British judges that this would no longer be possible. Abu Qatada had indicated earlier this year that he would be willing to return to Jordan voluntarily for a retrial if that evidence would be excluded.

He will be retried in a military court, but with civilian judges. During an earlier trial he was condemned to death, which was mitigated to lifetime imprisonment with hard labour. As he was convicted in absentia – he was in Britain at the time – he is entitled to a retrial now he has returned to Jordanian soil.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
News
A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
news
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
News
i100
News
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Developer (C#, ASP.NET Developer, SQL, MVC, WPF, Real-Time F

£40000 - £48000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Devel...

C# Swift Payment Developer (C#, ASP.NET, .NET, MVC, Authorize.N

£45000 - £60000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Swift...

Front-End Developer (JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3, C#, GUI)

£55000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End Deve...

Graduate C# Developer (.NET, WPF, SQL, Agile, C++) - London

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Graduate C# De...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?