Mass hanging in Jordan, as 15 put to death

Mass hanging in Jordan, as 15 put to death
2 min read
04 March, 2017
Jordan executed 15 people on Saturday including the killer of a secular writer and militant involved in an attack on tourists in the capital Amman in 2006.
Jordan had aimed to become the first Middle Eastern country to halt executions [Getty]

Jordan hanged 15 death row prisoners at dawn on Saturday, its information minister said, in a further break with the moratorium on executions it had observed between 2006 and 2014.

Ten of those put to death had been convicted of terrorism offences and five of "heinous" crimes including rape, Mohammed al-Momani told the official Petra news agency.

All were Jordanians and they were hanged in Suaga prison south of the capital Amman.

Among the terrorism offences were a 2006 attack on tourists at Amman's Roman amphitheatre that killed a Briton and a June 2016 attack on an intelligence service base north of the capital that left five agents dead.

They also included the September 2016 murder of Christian writer Nahed Hattar as he stood trial for publishing a cartoon deemed offensive to Islam.

Saad Hattar, a cousin of the victim, said on Saturday that while the killer was punished, those who instigated such attacks with hateful rhetoric were not.

"The murderer was just a tool, and our society needs the uprooting of the ideology and the culture behind him," he told AP.

King Abdullah II had said in 2005 that Jordan aimed to become the first Middle Eastern country to halt executions in line with most European nations.

Courts continued to hand down death sentences but they were not carried out.

However, public opinion blamed a rise in crime on the policy and in December 2014, Jordan hanged 11 men convicted of murder, drawing criticism from human rights groups.

Opinion hardened after the murder by the Islamic State group of captured Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kassasbeh, whose plane had crashed in a jihadist-held region of Syria in December 2014 while serving with a US-led coalition.

Grisly footage posted in February the following year of him being burnt alive in a cage outraged the public.

Swiftly afterwards, Jordan hanged two people convicted of terrorism offences, one of them Sajida al-Rishawi.

She had taken part in a 2005 suicide attack on luxury hotels in Amman organised by IS' forebear, al-Qaeda in Iraq, but her explosives failed to detonate.

According to judicial sources, 94 people remain on death row in Jordan, most of them convicted of murder or rape.