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Graft watchdog has ‘not summoned MPs’ in relation to tobacco case

Interpol endorse international arrest warrant against Mutee

By JT - Aug 07,2018 - Last updated at Aug 07,2018

AMMAN — An official source at the Jordan Integrity and Anti-Corruption Commission (JIACC) on Tuesday refuted media reports claiming that the watchdog had summoned deputies for interrogation in connection with the case of illegal tobacco manufacturing and smuggling.

In remarks to the Jordan News Agency, Petra, a JIACC source described the reports as “inaccurate and untrue”.

He explained that the JIACC as a law enforcement body does not have the jurisdiction to interrogate people in a case that is already being seen by the judiciary.  

The tobacco factory case, which involves illegal manufacturing, faking and smuggling of cigarettes, has remained in the media spotlight for weeks. 

On July 23, Prime Minister Omar Razzaz decided to refer the case to the State Security Court (SSC), as it is considered an economic crime.

The decisions came amid criticism of the initial decision by the government to leave the case in the hands of the prosecution office at the Jordan Customs Department, which examined the case and decided that the SSC was the competent court to see, especially since it involves alleged acts that “harm national economy” at a large scale. 

Arrest warrants have been issued for 30 persons implication in the underground business and on Tuesday, the Interpol issued an International Red Notice against the main suspect, Awni Mutee, a businessman who reportedly fled the country to Lebanon a day ahead of a crackdown on illegal facilities linked to the case. 

The development came one day after the public prosecutor at the SSC issued a similar arrest warrant against Mutee, whose “escape” triggered public outrage amid assertions by the government to bring to justice all involved in the headline-grabbing case.

Rumours about lawmakers and influential people’s involvement have been around since the issue went into the public spotlight, so much so that House Speaker Atef Tarawneh was prompted to issue a statement distancing himself from Mutee, after both were shown in photos attending public events.   

Chairing part of a Cabinet meeting this week, His Majesty King Abdullah commented on the spread of rumours and character assassination, calling for cooperation and further efforts to counter these pr ”Character assassination and attempts to stoke sedition are unacceptable,” His Majesty said.

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