Source AP ©

Jordan court rejects request demanding Bush to testify in assassination attempt trial

A Jordanian military court rejected a defense lawyer's request Wednesday, which demanded  George W. Bush to testify in the trial of three suspected Islamic militants accused of attemting to assassinate the U.S. president, when he was visiting the country in November.

Lawyer Abdel Karim Sharaydeh made the request for both Bush and the U.S. ambassador to Jordan to attend to trial in order to emphasize what he considers the fabricated nature of the plot attributed to his three clients.

"When I submitted my request to the court, I knew that it was impossible for Bush to attend the court hearing," Sharaydeh said. "I just wanted to draw to the attention of the Jordanian public opinion and media that this case is fabricated and the charges void," he told The Associated Press.

The White House declined to comment Wednesday.

Sharaydeh told the court that he wanted to hear from Bush or the U.S. ambassador whether they had even been told about the supposed assassination attempt and if any additional security measures had been taken.

Police arrested defendants Nidhal Musleh al-Momani, Sattam al-Zawahrah and Tharwat Daraj on Nov. 28, a day before Bush's arrival in Amman. The prosecution says the three alleged Islamic militants were found with large plastic bottles filled with gasoline meant to be used for bombs.

The suspects had intended to attack the U.S. embassy in Amman and kill both the president and the ambassador, the prosecution said. A second attack was planned against the Danish embassy, it said.

The suspects were apparently unaware of the absence of a Danish diplomatic mission in Jordan.

Their lawyer, however, maintains that the charges are trumped up and that the defendants and witnesses were tortured.

"The defendants were subject to torture to extract confessions of guilt," Sharaydeh said.

Defense witness Ahmad al-Momani, the brother of one of the defendants, also told the court on Wednesday that he was arrested and tortured before being released.

Following a request from Sharaydeh, the judge referred defendant al-Zawahrah to psychiatric clinic to assess his mental health.

The hearing was adjourned until Sept. 5. If convicted, all three could face the death penalty.

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