Well the verdict is in and Abu Fares and Abu Sukkar are going to jail for praising Zarqawi at his wake back in June.
Abu Fares was sentenced to 2 years in jail and Abu Sukkar to 1 1/2 years for their “provocative” remarks about Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq who was killed by U.S. forces June 7.
“The court is convinced by the evidence implicating the two … defendants Ã¢?? Mohammed Abu Fares and Ali Abu Sukkar,” said the presiding judge, whose name was withheld upon orders by the military court.
But the court acquitted a third defendant, Jaafar al-Hourani, for lack of evidence. It said the legislator did not make any provocative statements like the other two defendants and ruled that he must be released immediately.
The verdict “is imbalanced and carries political ramifications Ã¢?? simply to prevent both outspoken lawmakers, who are critics of government policies, from contesting next year’s parliamentary elections,” he said.
After the verdict was read out, Abu Fares nodded his head in dismay as he said: “May God help us all.”
In a written verdict distributed on the press, the court cited “provocative” remarks the legislators made during and after the terrorist leader’s wake. It said Abu Fares described al-Zarqawi as a “martyr,” while Abu Sukkar lauded his “martyrdom” and rebuked the presence of the U.S.-led multinational forces in Iraq.
“The words went way beyond the ethics of condolences at a wake,” the document said.
The three defendants pleaded innocent at the start of the trial in July to charges that they harmed national unity by “instigating sectarian strife and fueling national discord.”
During the trial, the court heard Abu Fares denying that he called al-Zarqawi a “martyr,” although prosecution evidence included a video tape showing the lawmaker using that description. The legislators also argued that their visit to al-Zarqawi’s home was “not a crime” and that the wake was “not outlawed” by the government.
A fourth legislator, Ibrahim al-Mashwakhi, was detained for visiting the al-Zarqawi home in Zarqa, northeast of Amman, on June 11. But Jordan’s chief military prosecutor released him earlier this month, saying “his action didn’t constitute a crime.” [source]
It appears from the news reports these past few weeks that they recieved a fair trial. The crime was not in attending the wake but in praising the guy. I guess it’s difficult to argue you didn’t say something when it’s on video. It also begs the question should lawmakers be aware of the law?
In June I was pretty angry about this whole situation and I suppose it was partly because Zarqawi had just been killed and any political official in Jordan praising him was bound to pick on my darker side. I still think what they did was wrong but as far as their punishment, one has to consider the ramifications.
Will this have a positive or negative impact? Will people start praising Zarqawi under their breath? Will support increase or decrease? Will this strengthen the IAF as a party in the next elections or weaken it?
In truth I know the answers to these questions but they’re all glass-half-empty so I’m hoping time will prove me wrong.