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Last Updated: Monday, 16 June, 2003, 11:37 GMT 12:37 UK
Jordan 'frees' blast photographer
Japanese photographer Hiroki Gomi, left, and his translator Abdel Salam Helwa in court
Gomi (left) said he was unaware the bomb was live

A Japanese press photographer jailed in Jordan for a bomb explosion that killed an airport guard has received a royal pardon, according to reports.

Hiroki Gomi, 36, was jailed at the beginning of the month after the cluster bomb - a "souvenir" from the Iraq war - accidentally exploded.

In court he said he was unaware the device had been live and apologised to the guard's family for the incident.

His newspaper, the Mainichi Shimbun, and other Japanese media reported on Monday that Gomi had been pardoned by Jordan's King Abdullah.

Kyodo news agency and public broadcaster NHK said Gomi was expected to be released later on Monday.

Japanese government officials said they had not been notified by the Jordanian authorities.

But a Jordanian court official told French news agency AFP: "The king issued today a special royal decree to pardon the photographer Hiroki Gomi, after a recommendation made by the government."

Gomi was jailed for 18 months after being convicted by a Jordanian court for causing unintentional death and inflicting bodily harm.


The bomb was detected by the x-ray machine at Amman's international airport as Gomi prepared to board a flight to Tokyo on May 1.

During the bag search, Sergeant Ali al-Sarhan was killed and three others wounded in the incident.

King Abdullah II of Jordan visits a Jordanian police officer who was injured at Queen Alia International airport near Amman
King Abdullah II visited a police officer injured in the blast

Gomi - who had spent two years in Jordan and covered the war in Iraq - said in court that he had taken the device as a souvenir not knowing it was still dangerous.

"I am sorry for the victim and his family, I am sorry for the wounded and I apologise to the Jordanian people," he said at the time.

Mainichi Shimbun also apologised for the incident, and the president of the leading daily newspaper visited Jordan to present condolences to the victim's family and King Abdullah.

The court acquitted Gomi's translator, Jordanian Abdel Salam Helwa, to whom the photographer had given a similar explosive device.

Jordan jails Japanese photographer
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Country profile: Jordan
03 Mar 03  |  Country profiles

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