Jordan police probe blames protesters for violence

AP News
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Posted: Jul 20, 2011 12:44 PM
Jordan police probe blames protesters for violence

A Jordanian police probe released Wednesday blamed protesters for instigating violent clashes with security forces that left dozens of people injured during a recent pro-democracy demonstration.

The eight-page report was quickly rejected by Jordanian activists. Shortly after the probe was released, about 100 protesters gathered outside the Interior Minister's office accusing police of carrying out Friday's violence and demanding security not use force against protesters.

The probe _ based on testimony from police and witnesses _ comes after police swinging clubs clashed with dozens of demonstrators in the capital in what was the most violent confrontation between protesters and police in weeks.

Friday's clashes left 73 people injured and led to the arrest of four policemen accused of using excessive force. Those wounded included 32 policemen, 25 protesters and 16 journalists and photographers, according to the probe.

The police probe said protesters "used foul language while cursing policemen" and physically attacked police with sticks and other tools.

Unarmed police on guard at the protest "grabbed tools and sticks available in the vicinity to defend themselves from the protesters attacking them," according to the report.

Protester Moath Khawaldeh called the probe a "total lie."

"Police attacked us because they wanted to frighten us in an effort to disperse us," he said. "They began the beatings and we had to defend ourselves."

The report also said police mistook journalists and photographers for protesters during the clashes.

Khalil Mazraawi, a photographer with a local Jordanian newspaper, said he was beaten by security forces even though he was wearing a bright orange vest given specifically to media personnel at the protest. Mazraawi said he was kicked on the back, shoved and punched in the face a few times.

Police spokesmen were not immediately available for comment.

Earlier this week, Interior Minister Mazen Saket accused protesters of planning to topple the state and of trying to intentionally cause civilian casualties as a ruse to gain sympathy and support.

Inspired by revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, Jordanians have taken to the streets in small, mostly peaceful protests in recent months to demand a greater say in politics.

Police Chief, Gen. Hussein Majali, and the interior minister held a closed-door meeting with the Jordan Press Association's board following last week's clashes.

Press Association board member Rakan Saaydeh said the police chief apologized for the behavior of security forces and assured him that such actions would not be repeated, vowing that police would be punished.

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Associated Press writer Dale Gavlak in Amman contributed to this report.