National

Freed journalist to return from Jordan

Kyodo

A Japanese journalist was preparing to leave Jordan for home Wednesday, following his pardon and release from prison after being convicted of causing the death of an airport security official in an explosion at Amman airport in May.

Hiroki Gomi, 36, an employee of the Mainichi Shimbun, reiterated his apology to the relatives of the deceased security official in a news conference before heading for the airport. He was scheduled to fly to Japan via London.

Gomi was released Tuesday following a special pardon from Jordan’s King Abdullah II. He was sentenced on June 1 to 18 months in prison by a military tribunal for negligence resulting in death and injuries.

Mainichi Shimbun officials said Gomi is in good health following his release after 47 days in custody.

Yoshiaki Ito, a deputy managing editor of the newspaper, told a news conference in Amman that a final agreement on compensation has been reached with the victims’ families.

Ito said the question of in-house punishment for Gomi will be decided after he returns to Japan. He added that Akira Saito, president of the newspaper, has said it will be “strict.”

Gomi was on his way back to Japan via Amman airport on May 1 after covering the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Airport security official Ali al-Sarhan was killed and five other people were injured when a device in Gomi’s luggage exploded.

The device was a bomblet from a cluster bomb, which Gomi said he was bringing home as a souvenir from Iraq and thought was spent.

On May 19, Jordan’s military prosecutors indicted Gomi on charges of negligence resulting in death and injury and illegal possession of explosives.

After he was sentenced, Gomi’s lawyers asked King Abdullah II for clemency. The Jordanian government announced Monday that the king decided to pardon Gomi and had signed documents approving an amnesty for him on Sunday.

Following the incident, Saito visited Jordan to apologize to the king and the family of Sarhan.

U.S. holds Japanese journalist

BAGHDAD (Kyodo) Japanese freelance journalist Rei Shiba has been held by the U.S. military since being detained during a visit to the city of Ramadi earlier this month, it was learned Tuesday.

Shiba, 27, served as a “human shield” for two weeks during the Iraq war and returned to the country recently as a freelance journalist.

He met with friends in Baghdad around June 8 and later headed to Ramadi, about 100 km southwest of Baghdad, together with two Iraqi guides, sources said.

Shiba was reportedly detained by U.S. soldiers while he was visiting a local university. Shiba also visited a Ramadi hospital. Shiba’s Iraqi guides have been released.

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