(MENAFN - Jordan Times) If Jordanian national Omar Mahmoud Othman, alias Abu Qatada, is deported from the UK and returns to Jordan, all verdicts issued against him in absentia will be dropped and he will be retried, the government said Tuesday.
In a statement carried by the Jordan News Agency, Petra, Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications and Government Spokesperson Rakan Majali explained that Jordanian law requires that such verdicts be cancelled as soon as the convicted individual stands trial in a Jordanian court.
The minister stressed that Jordan's Constitution and laws ensure a fair trial for any defendant and that Abu Qatada is no exception.
The statement came as Abu Qatada, a radical Islamist cleric at the centre of a lengthy legal battle to avoid extradition, was arrested Tuesday and told that the UK government was resuming attempts to send him to the Kingdom, the Associated Press reported.
The UK has sought to deport Abu Qatada, who was convicted in absentia of involvement in terror attacks in Jordan in 1998, for six years, but has come up against resistance from European institutions that oppose his deportation on supposed human rights grounds.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled in January that Abu Qatada could not be deported to Jordan because of a risk that evidence obtained through torture would be used against him in any future trial there.
UK Home Secretary Theresa May, however, visited the Kingdom in March and received assurances from the government that the cleric would receive a fair trial.
The ministry said that Abu Qatada was told he would be deported on or around April 30. However, if the cleric's lawyers lodge an appeal against the new deportation attempt, as is expected, the process could take several months.
May said reassurances from Jordan meant Britain could now proceed with his deportation and comply with the European court's ruling, Reuters reported.
"I believe the assurances and the information we have gathered will mean we can soon put Abu Qatada on a plane and get him out of our country for good," the agency quoted May as telling the UK parliament.
May visited the Kingdom with an official delegation in March to discuss the matter with Jordanian officials.