A former Jordanian royal court chief and a distant relative of King Abdullah II’s pleaded not guilty to sedition and incitement charges, a defense lawyer said on Monday.
Bassem Awadallah and Sharif Hassan Zaid are accused of conspiring with a senior royal — Prince Hamzah, a half-brother of the king — to incite unrest against the monarchy while soliciting foreign help.
Hamzah, who is the central figure in the case, is not facing charges. The king had said the royal family was handling the matter privately.
An official said the trial began behind closed doors at the State Security Court and will continue on Tuesday.
Awadallah and Zaid were arrested in early April and Hamzah was placed under house arrest following accusations that they had liaised with foreign parties in a plot to destabilize Jordan.
The charges they face carry sentences of up to 30 years in prison.
Awadallah, who also holds a Saudi nationality, is Jordan’s former finance minister. He also served as the royal court chief.
Zaid is a member of the royal family and a former special envoy to Riyadh. He also faces charges of drug abuse.
The pair are the most senior establishment figures to appear before the State Security Court, which typically tries suspected militants or drug offenders.
Proceedings against Hamzah were dropped after he pledged allegiance to King Abdullah.
fb/rt (AP, Reuters)