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‘Right arm’ of main suspect in tobacco case brought back

By JT - Sep 16,2018 - Last updated at Sep 16,2018

AMMAN — Minister of State for Media Affairs and Government Spokesperson Jumana Ghunaimat on Saturday announced that the security agencies had managed to bring back “Raed Mohammed Hamdan”, whom she identified as “the right arm of the main suspect in the tobacco case” Awni Mutee.

Ghunaimat said that the government had instructed the security agencies to secure the repatriation of Hamdan, and the General Intelligence Department managed, through intelligence channels, to accomplish the mission.

The minister did not elaborate on the charges against Hamdan or in which country he was, but said in a statement that he left the Kingdom on July 23, 2018, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

The Interpol issued in late August an International Red Notice against Mutee, a Jordanian businessman who reportedly fled the country to Lebanon in July, one day ahead of a crackdown on an alleged illegal tobacco manufacturing and smuggling factory.

Mutee is wanted on six charges including carrying out acts of endangering public safety and security, carrying out acts that would change the country’s economic entity and endangering the basic conditions of society, according to the Interpol Red Notice.

Other charges added by the Red Notice include joint customs evasion which is described as an economic crime, joint cheating on goods quality, joint general sales tax evasion and money laundering.

Ghunaimat has previously announced that 30 people are implicated in the case, which cause an uproar in the media after lawmakers went public and challenge the government to stop such a high-scale corruption case. 

Economic crimes are handled by the State Security Court, whose prosecutor on Thursday issued a gag on any news that would mention the names of suspects. 

Mutee’s reported escape triggered public outrage over the summer, amid assertions by the government to bring to justice all involved in the headline-grabbing case.

The prosecution office in Jordan, which contacted Interpol with the arrest warrant earlier this month, coordinated with the Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism Unit to seize the assets of the suspect and addressed the unit’s counterpart in “the country where he is now living to take a similar measure there”. 

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