Jordanian authorities arrest teenager accused of murdering 4-year-old

Police have been stationed outside the homes of relatives of the accused killer to prevent vigilante violence

Four-year-old Nibal went missing in Zarqa. Courtesy social media
Four-year-old Nibal went missing in Zarqa. Courtesy social media

Jordanian authorities on Sunday arrested a teenager who allegedly confessed to the murder of a four-year-old girl in a case that has sparked nationwide outrage as details of the grisly killing emerge.

Four-year-old Nibal, whose full name is suppressed due to Jordan’s laws on privacy in ongoing criminal case, went missing while playing in her neighbourhood in Zarqa, north of Amman on Wednesday.

The disappearance captured Jordan’s attention, with photos of the toddler and pleas for information on her whereabouts shared widely across social media. An intensive search of the surrounding area included the deployment of police dogs and drones.

On Saturday a sniffer dog discovered the body of the four-year-old lying under a pile of scrap metal in the basement of an apartment building a few hundred metres from her home.

Following an autopsy, pathologists at the National Institute of Forensic Medicine on Sunday announced that Nibal died from brain damage and internal bleeding after suffering multiple fractures to her skull and body.

A teenage boy who lived in the building where the body was discovered was arrested on Sunday. According to police, the teenager confessed to the murder during questioning in the presence of a legal guardian and police.

According to the police statement, the accused said Nibal and her mother had visited his parent’s home in the apartment building on Wednesday, and he had followed her to the basement intending to sexually assault her.

When the girl began screaming, he clubbed her to death.

After the body was discovered on Saturday, a crowd gathered at the outside the apartment block and attempted to burn the building down. Police called to the scene used tear gas to disperse the stone throwing mob.

One person suffered a fractured skull in Saturday night’s clashes, police said.

Police and gendarme forces have been deployed outside the homes of relatives of the accused to prevent potential revenge attacks.

According to local media reports, the victim’s family agreed to a three-day tribal “atwa,” or truce on Saturday, vowing not to take justice into their own hands and allow authorities time to uncover and arrest the killer.

To prevent revenge attacks from spiralling into a blood feud between two families or tribes or vigilante justice, Jordanian authorities along with tribal notables often help broker such “truces,” or facilitate mass relocation of families of a convicted murderer away from the victim’s family.

Calls for information online turned to demands for justice after Nibal’s body was discovered. Jordanians referred to her as “a martyr,” and “the daughter of Jordan”, describing the “heinous killing” as the “pain of the nation.”

“I wish her criminal murderer is executed in a public square before the people,” said Hassan, a Jordanian Twitter user. “May God bless her family and give them patience.”

Jordan issued a moratorium on capital punishment in 2006, and no executions were carried out until December 2014, when the death penalty was re-instated amid a rising public outcry over a perceived increase in highly-publicised murders. Since December 2014, 26 executions have been carried out.

Published: March 31, 2019 09:25 PM


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