AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — Jordan’s version of a trial of the century gets under way Monday when a relative of King Abdullah II and a former chief of the royal court are to be ushered into the defendants’ cage at the state security court to face charges of sedition and incitement.
They are accused of conspiring with a senior royal — Prince Hamzah, a half-brother of the king — to foment unrest against the monarch while soliciting foreign help.
The palace drama erupted into the open in early April, when Hamzah was placed under house arrest. It has since broken taboos in Jordan and sent jitters through foreign capitals.
The case exposed rivalries in Jordan’s traditionally discreet Hashemite dynasty and spawned unprecedented public criticism of the monarch. The defendants are the most senior establishment figures to appear before the security court, which typically goes after drug offenders or suspected militants.
“As far as I know, there has not been a case this big in the history of Jordan,” said defense lawyer Ala Khasawneh. The state news agency Petra said the trial starts Monday.
The 41-year-old Hamzah is the central figure, though he is not facing charges. In clashing narratives, he is either a champion of ordinary Jordanians suffering from economic mismanagement and corruption, or a disgruntled royal who never forgave Abdullah for taking away his title of crown prince in 2004 in favor of the king’s oldest son.
The indictment, leaked to state-linked media, alleges Hamzah “was determined to achieve his personal ambition” of becoming king. It says the prince and the defendants — Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, a royal, and Bassem Awadallah, a former royal adviser — conspired to stir discontent.
Security agencies began monitoring them in mid-March, at a time of public uproar over an oxygen outage at a hospital in the town of Salt that killed eight coronavirus patients.
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