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Jordan must fully investigate suspected police killings

Amnesty International has called on the Jordanian authorities to launch without delay full and independent investigations into the deaths of two men in one week after they were allegedly beaten by police officers. Fakhri 'Anani, a 48-year-old, died in hospital on Saturday, two days after reportedly being attacked by police officers outside his home in the southern city of Ma'an. Sadem Abdul Mutelib al-Saoud, a street vendor in his 20s, died on 8 November after spending around three weeks in a coma; he had allegedly been beaten with batons on the head while held at the al-Hussein Security Centre in Amman. Fakhri 'Anani was reportedly standing outside his home when police officers,  wanting to question his son about an allegation that he had aided a person suspected of fraud, drew up in a police vehicle. Two officers got out of the vehicle and assaulted him, one spraying gas in his face, while the other beat him with a baton before dragging him down some steps, according to reports. He died in hospital in Amman. The autopsy noted that the main cause of death was due to an injury to the head with a hard object.   A police officer was charged on Tuesday with the murder of Fakhri 'Anani and is expected to stand trial in a police court. Sadem al-Saoud was detained in October after arguing with a municipal worker about his street stall. The worker called the police to arrest him, which subsequently lead to his alleged beating in detention. At least four police officers in the case of Sadem al-Saoud have apparently been referred to a police court. The evidence against them will be investigated before the court decides whether the officers should stand trial. "The reported deaths at the hands of the police of two men within one week of each other is a very worrying development," said Philip Luther, Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme. "While the prompt referral of a number of police officers to police courts indicates that the authorities have acknowledged the seriousness of these incidents, a full and independent investigation is essential to ensure that justice is done. "Jordan's police courts are neither sufficiently independent nor transparent in their conduct. The court decisions are not made public and the sessions are closed."   In March 2005, ten police officers were sentenced to prison terms of up to 30 months following the death in Jweideh prison in 2004 of Abdallah al-Mashaqbeh, 40 per cent of whose body was found covered in bruises. Little information has been made available about who was tried, sentenced or dismissed for involvement in his death. However, reports indicate that none of the sentenced officers spent any time in prison. Amnesty International has called for prompt, thorough and impartial investigations into both recent deaths. The organization said that they must be carried out by investigators independent of the prosecuting authorities and agencies involved in the arrest and interrogation of the victims. The authorities must guarantee full co-operation with the investigation. Furthermore, all suspects should be suspended immediately from active police duty and prosecuted and brought to justice if evidence of excessive force or unlawful action emerges. This is the only way to ensure a clear message is sent to all Jordanian law enforcement officers that those who commit human rights violations will be held fully to account.