Christopher Stokes was killed in Jordan in 2006 when a gunman opened fire at a tour group
- A gunman who fired at Western tourists in Amman in 2006 has been executed
- Christopher Stokes, 30, was killed in the attack by the lone gunman in 2006
- A total of 15 people were executed in Jordan on Saturday, 10 on terror charges
- Largest number of people executed in one day in recent Jordan history
A gunman convicted of firing at a group of Western tourists in Amman in 2006, killing one Briton is among 15 people executed on Saturday by Jordan.
Christopher Stokes, from Littleborough near Rochdale, was killed in September 2006 when gunman Nabeel Ahmed Issa al-Jaourah opened fire in a Roman amphitheatre in Amman.
Al-Jaourah had been sentenced to death in December 2006 when he was found guilty of the murders in a Jordanian court.
Speaking at the time, Rod and Norma Stokes, Christopher’s parents, said the decision helped them ‘move on a little bit’.
A total of 15 people were executed on Saturday including 10 convicted on terrorism charges ranging from the attack a decade ago to the slaying of a writer, a judicial source and the government spokesman Mohammad al Momani said on Saturday.
Al Momani said those executed included one man who was convicted of an attack last year on an intelligence compound that killed five security personnel.
Another five were involved in an assault by security forces on a militant hideout in Irbid city in the same year that led to the death of seven militants and one police officer, while the rest related to separate incidents that go back as far as 2003.
The prisoners were hanged at dawn at Swaqa Prison, about 50 miles from Amman, on Saturday
Rod and Norma Stokes, the parents of Christopher, who was killed more than a decade ago. They said the killer getting the death sentence in December 2006 helped them move on
It was the largest number of people executed in one day in Jordan’s recent history, according to a senior judicial source.
Jordan intensified its campaign against suspected Islamic extremists after IS released a video in early 2015, showing its militants as they burned to death the fighter pilot trapped in a cage. In response to the video, Jordan executed two prisoners linked to the al-Qaida terror network, a precursor of IS.
Hundreds of Jordanians have been detained or sentenced to prison since then, including those expressing support for IS on social media.
The prisoners were hanged at dawn Saturday at Swaqa Prison, about 47 miles (75 km) south of the capital of Amman, said government spokesman Mohammed Momani. All had links to Islamic militant groups, he said.
Human rights group Amnesty International condemned the executions by hanging saying they were carried out in ‘secrecy and without transparency’.
‘The scale of today’s mass executions is shocking and it’s a big step backwards on human rights protection in Jordan,’ said Samah Hadid, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Beirut regional office.
Jordanian policemen outside the theatre after the gun attack in Amman in 2006. The gunman was killed today
Hadid said the death penalty was ‘problematic because in some cases confessions in Jordan were extracted under torture or duress’, echoing widespread complaints by human rights activists.
Amnesty said in a statement earlier: ‘Jordan had for years been a leading example in a region where recourse to the death penalty is all too frequent.’
Jordan in the past refrained from executing political detainees and either reduced or suspended death sentences handed to fundamentalist Islamists on terror-related charges.
International human rights activists say militants are put on trial in military courts that are unconstitutional and lack proper legal safeguards, adding that there are growing cases of mistreatment and of extracting confessions under duress.
Swaqa prison, where the executions took place. The gunman who killed Mr Stokes had been sentenced to death in 2006
The government denies it tortures prisoners or mistreats detainees, saying its courts abide by human rights laws.
A judicial source said the authorities also executed a gunman who last year shot dead outside a court a Christian writer who was standing trial for contempt of religion after sharing on social media a caricature insulting Islam.
The five other executions were for rape and sexual assault.
Jordan restored the death sentence by hanging in 2014 after a moratorium on capital punishment between 2006 and 2014.
Speaking in 2006 after the death of their son, and the sentencing of his killer, Christopher’s father, Rod Stokes said: ‘It feels like closure for us in one part. We can move on a little bit.
His wife, Norma, 60, continued: ‘We’re just relieved that the verdict has come quickly. It’s what we were expecting.’
Mr Stokes added: ‘We’ve no strong revenge feelings at all. We take the view that if it was an act of terrorism as they say and if it’s the law of the land that the guy be executed then that’s it.
‘We’re not saying this is how it should be, but we don’t feel we’re in a position to judge the laws of another country.’
Relatives and activists of Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar, who was shot dead, take a farewell look during his funeral in the town of Al-Fuheis in September
Nahad Hattar, the writer, had been on trial for posting a cartoon deemed offensive to Islam on social media when an assailant killed him outside the courthouse. The shooter was a former mosque prayer leader motivated by anger over the cartoon, officials said at the time.
Saad Hattar, a cousin of the victim, said Saturday that while the killer was punished, those who instigated such attacks with hateful rhetoric were not.
‘The murderer was just a tool, and our society needs the uprooting of the ideology and the culture behind him,’ Hattar, a journalist, told The Associated Press.
Analyst Labib Kamhawi said he believes the executions were meant to send a triple message. They signaled to potential attackers that they can expect harsh punishment and reminded ordinary Jordanians buckling under price increases that their country faces a serious security threat, he said.
The message to the outside world, particularly the Trump administration, is that ‘Jordan is on top of things and that Jordan can be considered one of the allies in fighting terrorism,’ Kamhawi said.