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Irbid town residents block roads in protest after detention of relative in ‘tobacco case’

SSC orders detention of six former officials as part of investigation

By Raed Omari - Jan 23,2019 - Last updated at Jan 24,2019

police officers attempting to disburse protesters in Irbid’s Eidoun district following the arrest of a relative in connection with the tobacco case (JT photo This photo, taken on a mobile phone on Wednesday, shows)

AMMAN — Dozens of people on Wednesday blocked roads and burned tyres in Irbid's Eidoun district in protest against the detention of their relative retired Maj. Gen. Wadah Hmoud, a former director of the Jordan Customs Department (JCD), in connection with the so-called “tobacco case”.

The State Security Court (SSC) decided on Wednesday to detain Hmoud, former 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 as part of the investigation into the tobacco case.

Around 150 protesters took to burning tyres and blocking the main road linking Eidoun with Irbid and Ajloun, a security source told The Jordan Times on Wednesday.

The source, who preferred anonymity, added that police were talking to the "angry young men, to convince them to end their protest before using other law-enforcement measures".

The protesters were chanting slogans demanding the release of Hmoud, he added.

After his extradition from Turkey last month, primary suspect in tobacco case, Awni Mutee was ordered detained by the SSC prosecutor following a questioning of the defendant, during which Mutee “disclosed important information and details regarding the case” that the prosecutor found worthy of follow-up and further investigation.

Mutee is 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.

He was wanted on six charges, including carrying out acts that endanger public safety and security and carrying out acts that would change the country’s economic entity or endanger the society’s basic conditions, according to the Interpol Red Notice.

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