CAIRO – A Japanese photojournalist handed a prison term in Jordan for causing the death of an airport security official was expected to be released as early as Monday through a pardon from Jordan’s King Abdullah II.
According to sources, the king signed documents Sunday approving an amnesty for Hiroki Gomi, 36, a former photojournalist for the Mainichi Shimbun.
Gomi’s lawyers asked the king for clemency after the journalist was sentenced June 1 to 18 months in prison over a May 1 explosion at Amman airport that killed an airport security officer and injured five other people.
The explosion was caused by a “souvenir” cluster bomblet in Gomi’s luggage.
The military tribunal ruled that Gomi’s negligence led to the incident. The following day, both the prosecution and defense teams agreed not to appeal, paving the way for clemency proceedings.
Gomi was on his way back to Japan after covering the U.S. invasion of Iraq when the bomblet exploded at the airport.
He claimed he thought that the bomblet, which he had picked up on a road in Iraq, was already spent and would not explode.
Sources close to the case said it is likely that the Jordanian side opted to seek a swift diplomatic resolution to the incident in an effort to maintain friendly ties with Japan.
Jordan’s economy is in dire straits due to protracted tension in the Middle East and financial assistance from Tokyo is vital, the sources said.
Judicial sources in Jordan said trials of a similar nature usually take at least one month. , but the speedy proceedings in this case were likely the result of domestic circumstances such as the friendly sentiments Jordanians harbor toward Japanese.
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