Torture attack on teenager outrages Jordanians

Six charged after boy was abducted on bus and mutilated by gang

A member of Jordanian security forces stops cars as the police and army close-off the area surrounding the site of an explosion at a military munitions depot in the city of Zarqa, 25 Km (15 miles) east of the capital Amman, on September 11, 2020. - A huge blast rocked a Jordanian military munitions depot early sparking a large fire, but the army said there were no casualties at the base situated in an uninhabited area, adding in a statement that the explosion was "due to high temperatures provoking a chemical reaction in a shell". (Photo by Khalil MAZRAAWI / AFP)
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Jordanians were outraged after attackers cut off a teenager's hands and gouged out one of his eyes.

The 16-year-old from the city of Zarqa, identified as Saleh, said he went out to buy bread and encountered a gang member he routinely avoided, local news broadcaster Roya TV reported on Tuesday.

In Saleh’s effort to escape the man, he jumped on a bus and then realised the driver was also a gang member.

According to Saleh, the driver threatened him with a screwdriver if he did not shut up. Others boarded the bus and began beating Saleh. The bus was driven to a location where the assault continued.

“An attacker put my hands on the table and struck me with an axe several times,” Saleh told local media. He said the man gouged out one of his eyes and damaged the other.

Saleh said 12 people were involved in his abduction and torture.

A witness said he called the police when he saw Saleh covered in blood and screaming from his "torment".

King Abdullah II ordered that the 16-year-old be provided with the necessary health care following the attack. Justice Minister Bassam Al Talhouni described the assault as a “heinous crime”.

A video circulating on social media showed Saleh sitting bleeding from wrists and eyes as he asked the attackers to call an ambulance.

It is believed that the attack was retaliation for the murder of the lead suspect’s relative this year, media said. Saleh’s father is serving a prison sentence for that crime.

Colonel Amer Al Sartawi, spokesman for the Public Security Directorate, confirmed the attack on Tuesday evening.

Six people were charged in connection with the assault. A security source said the main suspect had a record of more than 170 arrests.

The charges included conspiracy to commit premeditated murder, indecent assault and kidnapping, a source told Roya TV. All six will remain in police custody.

In a televised interview, Saleh’s mother said she would have rather died than sent her son out to buy bread had she known the fate that awaited him.

Mabrouk Al Surihin, director of Zarqa Governmental Hospital where Saleh was treated before being moved to King Hussein Medical City, said the teenager was in a stable condition after four operations.

Mr Al Surihin said that one of Saleh's hands was cut off at the wrist and the other from the middle of the forearm. Saleh would need more surgery and prosthetic limbs, he said.

Dr Safia Shehadeh said it was not yet clear if the sight in Salah's remaining eye would be permanently impaired.

Mr Al Talhouni said penalties will be enforced on anyone who commits such crimes, adding that Jordan has a strong penal code to deal with criminals.

On social media, citizens criticised Article 335 of the Jordanian Penal Code, which states the punishment for the amputation of a limb should result in a maximum jail term of 10 years.

People called for stringent action against the perpetrators. Some demanded the death penalty. The hashtag #execute_Zarqa_criminal (#الاعدام_لمجرم_الزرقاء) was among the top trends on Twitter on Wednesday.

Journalist Yasser Zaatarah questioned the effectiveness of laws. He tweeted: "They kidnapped the 16-year-old boy in retaliation for the crime of his imprisoned father. What is the fault of the poor person of a crime that has nothing to do with it? What do modern laws do in a situation like this?!"

Twitter user Jina Lenetti posted: "How can people be this cruel? What have we [come] to? This is disgusting."