Jordan hangs 15 convicts at dawn, most in years
Yoav LEMMER (AFP/File)
Jordan hanged 15 death row prisoners including convicted "terrorists" at dawn on Saturday, its information minister said, in a further break with a moratorium on executions it observed between 2006 and 2014.
Ten of those put to death had been convicted of terrorism offences and five of "heinous" crimes including rape, Mahmud 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 which 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.
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 (IS) group of captured Jordanian pilot Maaz 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's 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, following Saturday's executions.
Jordan, which hosts hundreds of thousands of refugees from the conflict in Syria, carries out air strikes on IS in both Syria and Iraq as a member of the US-led coalition.
The pro-Western kingdom fears a spillover of the jihadist threat and closely monitors thousands of Jordanians suspected of being IS or Al-Qaeda sympathisers.
In June 2016, a car bomb at a crossing from Syria, claimed by IS, killed seven Jordanian security personnel. Amman has responded by sealing the border.
Jordanian authorities say several other IS attacks were foiled last year.
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