Jordan: Parliament Refers 2 Former Ministers to Court, Refuses to Waive Immunity of MP

Monday, 9 December, 2019 - 13:15
Amman- Mohammed Kheir Alrawashdeh

The Jordanian parliament agreed on the judiciary request to refer two former ministers to court on charges of abusing their job jurisdictions, while it refused to waive the immunity of two deputies in two different cases.

The Parliamentary Legal Committee submitted its recommendations to refer former ministers of Public Works and Housing Sami Halasa and Environment Taher al-Shakhshir to the judiciary, and waive the immunity of MPs Ghazi al-Hawamleh and Sadah al-Habashneh.

Speaker Atef Tarawneh submitted the vote on the parliamentary committee’s decision on the agenda of Sunday’s session, defying the ongoing controversy over his desire to postpone the vote for personal reasons. Tarawneh personally voted on referring the two ministers to the judiciary, while his vote on waiving the immunity of the two members of the parliament was not accounted for.

Earlier, independent Islamist deputy Mohamed al-Riyati accused Tarawneh of having personal interests with Halasa, prompting the Speaker to address the parliament at the beginning of the session.

The Speaker asserted that these claims are in violation of the bylaws and aim to mislead the public. He also revealed papers proving he referred the judicial request to the legal committee last May.

During the session, 119 deputies voted on the decision to refer Halasa and Shakhshir to the judiciary. While only 51 lawmakers voted in favor of removing Hawamleh and Habashneh's immunity, which is below the statutory majority.

Activists on social media criticized the judicial demands to lift the immunity of the two members of the parliament after voicing their opposition to the government.

Hawamleh is known for his criticism of the royal court, which led commentators to link between the positions of the two MPs and judicial prosecution against them.

The parliament was inclined to vote on the immunity of both deputies as it is limited to the period of working in the parliament and given that the term of the eighteenth parliament ends in next April.

Hawamleh, who is also a lawyer, was accused of fraud and money laundering, while Habashneh faced charges of slander and defamation in a case brought against him by the Governor of Kerak.

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