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Assassinated writer Hattar’s family complaint against Mulki dismissed

By Rana Husseini - Oct 11,2018 - Last updated at Oct 11,2018

AMMAN — A Jordanian court on Thursday dismissed a complaint filed by the family of assassinated Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar against former prime minister Hani Mulki.

The Amman Criminal Magistrate Court Judge Mohammad Tarawneh said in his decision that trying Jordanian ministers requires the approval of Parliament, according to a copy of the verdict sent to The Jordan Times.

But one of the many lawyers in the case, lawyer Zaid Nabulsi, described the decision as “baseless and contradicting the clear letter of the law”.

“The decision by the judge was so absurd because the implication is that individuals cannot sue any ex-minister unless they seek permission from the Parliament, which contradicts what clearly states that ministers are protected only when they are serving in the current government,” he added. 

No such consent is required if the minister is no longer serving in the government, Nabulsi told The Jordan Times, adding “we shall appeal this decision because all judicial precedents are very clear that no such permission is required”.

 Hattar’s family filed a lawsuit against Mulki last month, accusing him of dereliction of public duties and harming the interest of the state.

Hattar, who was facing trial for sharing a caricature that was considered insulting to religious beliefs and feelings, was on his way to attend a hearing at the Palace of Justice on September 25, 2016, when he was assassinated in front of the Amman courthouse.

The caricature depicted a bearded man in heaven, smoking and in bed with two women, asking a figure representing God to bring him wine and cashews. Hattar at the time commented, saying this is how ISIS perceived God. 

The caricature caused a public outcry and Mulki, who was the prime minister at the time, declared Hattar a “runaway” and ordered the interior minister to arrest him.

Hattar apologised shortly after sharing the caricature on his Facebook page and took it down.

Nabulsi had told The Jordan Times in a recent interview that “Mulki used his position as a prime minster to further escalate the situation and provoke the street instead of calming it down,” stressing that “Mulki also failed to bring to justice the many individuals who publicly threatened to kill Hattar and described him as a dangerous criminal before being prosecuted by a civil court”.
He charged that the former premier's actions stem from an “old political feud with Hattar, because the latter would often write articles that criticised his government”. 

Hattar’s assassin, Riad Abdullah, was executed in March 2017 after being convicted by the highest court in Jordan of carrying out subversive acts that led to the death of an individual, conducting terrorist acts that could lead to turmoil, premeditated murder and possessing an unlicensed weapon.
Mulki's government had condemned the assassination of Hattar, describing it as a “heinous crime” that is an “alien” act to Jordanian society.

The government then directed the interior and the justice ministers to follow up on the investigation and ensure that justice was served, and stressed that swift measures would be taken against those who use the issue to promote hate speech.

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