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Monday, 3 December, 2001, 15:52 GMT
Jordan sentences Abu Nidal to death
Abu Nidal
Abu Nidal's group is blamed for 300 deaths
A Jordanian military court has sentenced the Palestinian militant Abu Nidal to death for masterminding the assassination of a Jordanian diplomat in 1994.

Four other defendants were convicted with Abu Nidal for the murder of Naeb Imran Maaytah, the first secretary at the Jordanian Embassy in Beirut.

I am dissatisfied about the sentences and will appeal the court rulings

Defence lawyer Hussein al-Masri
Four of the five, including Abu Nidal, whose real name is Sabri al-Banna, were convicted in absentia.

The only defendant present during the trial, Yasser Abu Shunar, a Jordanian, has denied the charges against him.

Appeal allowed

"I am dissatisfied about the sentences and will appeal the court rulings," Hussein al-Masri, Abu Shunar's lawyer, told the Reuters news agency.

Under Jordanian law, the five are allowed to appeal the conviction and the sentence.

Attacks attributed to Abu Nidal
1985: Attacks at Rome and Vienna airports in December 1985
1986: Attacks on the Neve Shalom synagogue in Istanbul, and the hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73 hijacking in Karachi
1988: Attack on the City of Poros day-excursion ship in the Mediterranean, and a bombing of a hotel in Khartoum
1991: Suspected of assassinating PLO deputy chief Abu Iyad
1994: Assassinated a Jordanian diplomat in Lebanon
Abu Nidal broke off from the Palestine Liberation Organisation, headed by Yasser Arafat, in the 1970s.

He now heads the Fatah Revolutionary Council, which is suspected of carrying out a series of attacks in Europe and the Middle East in an attempt to undermine peace efforts between Arab states and Israel.

The group has been described by the US State Department as "the most dangerous terrorist organisation in existence."

America says the group is responsible for about 300 deaths, but that it has been much less active in recent years due to a shortage of funds.

Whereabouts unknown

Abu Nidal's whereabouts are not known for certain, but he is believed to be in Iraq.

A statement by the court said the five convicted men were accused of "conspiracy to carry out a terrorist activity that led to the death of an individual, as well as membership in an illegal group."

They were also "sentenced to death by hanging," according to the statement.

The three others convicted in absentia were Uqab Nimer Al-Faqha, also known as Izzeddine Nimer, who lives in Iraq; Jamal Darwish, also known as Rashed Attiyah, who lives in Libya; and Ihsan Sadiq al-Rathwan who lives in the West Bank.

See also:

14 Jan 00 | Middle East
Leading member of Abu Nidal arrested
26 Aug 98 | Middle East
Conflicting reports over Abu Nidal
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