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Gov’t to defend ‘honest citizens’ unjustly accused in ‘tobacco case’ — PM

By JT - Feb 09,2019 - Last updated at Feb 09,2019

AMMAN — Prime Minister Omar Razzaz on Friday said that the government is following up on the developments of the so-called tobacco case and will defend every honest citizen that faced injustice, paid a price for standing up in the face of corruption and refused to receive illicit gains. 

In a tweet, the prime minister added that those citizens “have honoured their pledges, never betrayed the oath and were an example to follow, and will be justly served”. 

An official source said on Saturday that circulated news reports claiming the involvement of current and former officials in the “tobacco case” are baseless.

The official added that the reports circulated on social media outlets belong to “suspicious sources based outside the Kingdom”, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

Such reports aim at influencing procedures and hindering the progress in the investigation, the source said, calling on the public to search for accurate information from their official sources, which are keen on publishing any developments in the case.

In addition to the prime suspect, Jordanian businessman Awni mutee, several former officials were charged for involvement in the case, including retired former director of the Jordan Customs Department (JCD) Maj. Gen. Wadah Hmoud, former water minister Musa Oweis, Lt. Gen. Salem Khasawneh and Lt. Gen. Wael Smadi from the JCD, former adviser Wahab Awamleh and free trade zone official Muhieldin Ghitan.

The number of cases related to tobacco smuggling in the so-called tobacco case, that were referred to court upon a decision by the customs prosecutor general totalled 30, he added.

Following the registration of these cases, an investigation team from the State Security Court prosecutors general have immediately embarked on investigating the case and contacting relevant ministries, institutions and companies, according to the official.

The team listened to 246 witnesses, of which 141 testimonies were accredited for having relevant information to the case, he added.  

The team also conducted a two-week investigation in Aqaba to collect evidence, and visited the free zone in Zarqa more than 10 times to follow up on the inventory process, inspection procedures and the management of seized items from relevant companies, houses and other locations, the official said.

He added that a group from the team has been tasked with following up on any piece of information published on social media outlets and news websites that may be useful for the investigation, which resulted in summoning several witnesses who offered useful information to the investigation. 

The attorney general office has reached a conclusion that despite the fact that the project started in 2006, yet its peak activities were focused between 2014 and 2018, based on the date of establishing the companies that were registered in Companies Control Department and the inbound and outbound customs statements, the source said.

The tobacco factory case involves illegal manufacturing, and the faking and smuggling of cigarettes.

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