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Jordan ex-royal court chief faces trial over alleged monarchy plot

AMMAN, JORDAN - MAY 11: Jordanian Prince Hamzah Bin al-Hussein attends the SOFEX Jordan (Special Operations Forces Exhibition and Conference) on May 11, 2010 in Amman, Jordan. SOFEX is a four day exhibition covering issues relating to homeland security and counter-terrorism measures. (Photo by Salah Malkawi/Getty Images)
Jordanian Prince Hamzah Bin al-Hussein on May 11, 2010 in Amman, Jordan [Salah Malkawi/Getty Images]

Jordan's military court will start the trial next week of a former royal court chief and a minor royal on charges of agitating to destabilise the monarchy, state media said on Sunday, reports Reuters.

Prosecutors last week referred to court the case of Bassem Awadallah, an ex-royal court chief and finance minister who played a big role in the drive to liberalise Jordan's economy, and Sherif Hassan Zaid, a distant relative of King Abdullah.

They were arrested in early April when former heir to the throne Prince Hamza was placed under house arrest over allegations that he had liaised with foreign parties over a plot to destabilise Jordan, a close US ally in the Middle East.

Proceedings against Prince Hamza, who along with Awadallah had been under investigation for some time, were later dropped after he pledged allegiance to King Abdullah.

READ: Saudi backs Jordan on arrest of former head of Royal Court

Awadallah is among the closest economic advisers to Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a matter that complicated the judicial investigations, two senior politicians familiar with the affair told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Amman turned down Riyadh's request to hand him over, they added, without elaborating.

The intrigue exposed the first serious rift within Jordan's ruling Hashemite family in many years and shook the image of the country as an island of stability in an unpredictable region.

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