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Family of late writer Hattar files complaint against Mulki

If convicted, former premier could face one year in prison

By Rana Husseini - Sep 28,2018 - Last updated at Sep 28,2018

AMMAN — The family of assassinated Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar on Thursday decided to file a criminal complaint against former prime minister Hani Mulki, accusing him of failing to perform his sworn duties, one of their lawyers said.

Hattar, who was facing trial for sharing a caricature that was considered insulting to religious beliefs and feelings, was on his way with family members 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 resembling God to bring him wine and cashews. 

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.

Lawyer Zaid Nabulsi told The Jordan Times that a lawsuit has been filed against Mulki at the Amman Criminal Magistrate Court “and the first court hearing was set on October 11”.

“The charges we filed against the former premier include dereliction of public duties and harming the interest of the state,” according to Nabulsi, one of several lawyers representing the Hattar family.

Nabulsi added: “Mulki used his position as a prime minster to further escalate the situation and provoke the street instead of calming it down.”

“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,” Nabulsi stressed.

He charged that Mulki’s actions stem from an “old political feud with Hattar, because the latter would often write articles that criticised his government”.  

If convicted of the charges, Mulki could receive a maximum of one year in prison.

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.

The convicted killer, a 49-year-old resident of east Amman, was known for his extremist thoughts and behaviour, officials said.

Hattar’s family has repeatedly called for the prosecution of the “provocateurs and individuals who failed to secure the safety of their son and instead caused his death”.

The government of Mulki 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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