Jordan: attempted murder charges filed over brutal attack on teenager

Public security chief warns of strong action against 'outlaws'

An ambulance drives along an empty road during a COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown in Jordan's capital Amman on October 9, 2020.  / AFP / afp / Khalil MAZRAAWI
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Jordanian prosecutors have filed charges of attempted murder over the brutal the attack on a teenage boy that left him without hands and one eye.

The accused were arrested on Friday after the attack on the 16-year-old, identified as Saleh, in Zarqa city, about 30 kilometres north-east of the capital Amman. They were charged with "attempted joint-enterprise murder, kidnapping and causing permanent disability among other crimes", the state news agency Petra reported.

The agency did not say how many people were charged. The criminal court prosecutor ordered them to be held for 15 days while investigations continue.

Saleh was abducted and tortured in what is thought to have been retaliation for the murder of a relative of the lead suspect earlier this year. Saleh’s father is currently serving a prison sentence for the murder.

The attackers chopped off Saleh’s hands with an axe and gouged out one of his eyes.

There has been an outpouring of shock and anger both within Jordan and across the globe in response to the attack and calls for stringent action to be taken against the accused if found guilty. Many people have taken to social media to call for the death penalty.

Following the attack, Jordan’s King Abdullah II ordered that the boy be given all the treatment necessary. Queen Rania backed calls for stringent punishment for the "unspeakable atrocity" in a post on her Facebook page.

"How can we undo this heinous crime? How can we mend your parents’ shattered hearts? How can we keep our children safe from the brutality of criminals who lack the most basic morals?" she wrote.

"Our hearts go out to you. You are the son of every Jordanian home, and I stand with the voices that call for the fullest punishment of the perpetrators."

The director general of the Jordanian Royal Medical Services, Brig Gen Adel Al Whadaneh, said a team of orthopaedic, ophthalmic and plastic surgery consultants was treating Saleh at the King Hussein Medical City in Amman. He is also receiving psychological counselling. The long-term plan is to provide the teenager with prosthetic limbs, while the vision in his remaining eye could improve over time, he said.

The head of the Public Security Directorate issued a warning against "outlaws" on Saturday and vowed to “strike with an iron fist against anyone who threatens the security” of the country.

“Outlaws are the weakest party in front of a security [force] that derives its strength from the brotherhood and magnanimity of Jordanians'" Maj Gen Hussein Al Hawatmeh said in a post on his Facebook account. "We believe in its ability to guarantee the most deterrent penalties against them.”

He encouraged people to contact a WhatsApp number that has been allocated for the public to report any observations, information or complaints related to acts of bullying, intimidation or "thuggery".

The spokesperson for the directorate said the Anti-Cybercrime Unit had identified fraudulent fundraising pages claiming to collect donations for Saleh and his family, most of which were outside of Jordan.

He action was being taken against the perpetrators and warned the public not to fall victim to such scams.