Lifestyle & Belief

Paralympics: Jordan pulls 3 athletes over sex charges


Two athletes and a coach from the Jordanian power-lifting team will not be competing in the Paralympics after being charged with sexual assault. The Jordanian Embassy posted bail for the three men and they will return to court in Northern Ireland for their trial on October 18th.


Justin Setterfield

Three Jordanian athletes have been pulled out of the 2012 Paralympic Games over charges they assaulted women and children in Northern Ireland, reports AP

Paralympic power-lifters Omar Sami Qaradhi, Motaz Al-Junadi and their coach Faisal Hammash were released on bail Wednesday northwest of Belfast where Jordan's team is training before the Games. 

The Jordanian Olympic Committee confirmed the three men, two of whom use wheelchairs, will be flown home later on Thursday but that they will be returned to court in Northern Ireland on Oct. 18 for their hearing.

In a statement to AP, the committee said it was pulling the three men from the team because it "would be inappropriate for the accused athletes to compete" in the Games. 

"We have zero tolerance on any misconduct and will continue to work closely with the Northern Ireland authorities to assist in their investigation," said the statement. "However, our focus is now preparing the remaining members of the team for competition and we look forward to taking part in what promises to be a truly magnificent sporting event."

The BBC reports that all of the charges occurred at the Antrim Forum sports complex where several teams are training in advance of the Games which begin in London August 29th. 

Hammash, 35, faces two counts of causing a child to engage in sexual activity. Qaradhi, 31, is charged with three counts of sexual assault and one of voyeurism. At least two of the assaults were against children. Al-Junadi, 45, faces one charge of sexual assault.

The UK's Telegraph newspaper reports that a 14-year-old girl claimed that on August 18 she posed for photos with Qaradhi before he groped her in the town center. Another teenage girl also said she was walking along the river beside the sports complex with a friend when the three men blocked their path. Police alleged that the girl was pushed by one of the men towards Qaradhi who wrapped his arm around her waist and tightened his grip before she ran away.

A Jordanian embassy official offered bail of £500 ($793) with a surety of £5,000 ($7937) from the Jordanian government for each defendant, reports the BBC. The three men have been returned to Jordan.