(Reuters) – Four Jordanians including a former senior minister and business tycoon on trial for suspected bribery were granted bail Sunday, judicial sources said.
The high profile trial, in which the defendants have denied wrongdoing, has rocked a political establishment unaccustomed to corruption cases in the administration and state controlled companies that go beyond minor investigations and arrests.
Prime Minister Samir Rifai pledged when he assumed office last December to crack down on any corruption.
The sources said former finance minister Adel Qudah along with business tycoon Khaled Shaheen, Mohammad Rawashdeh, a senior advisor to the prime minister and Ahmad Rifai, former head of the country’s sole refiner, were expected to be freed later Sunday on bail of about $211,000 each.
Qudah, a member of Jordan’s political old guard, is the first senior government official to answer corruption charges.
Prosecutors say he gained personally during his tenure as the government-appointed chairman of Jordan Petroleum when he allegedly sought to give a front company Shaheen owned an exclusivity deal to undertake a refinery project.
Critics worry the trial could turn into vendettas among powerful business lobbies rather than ushering a major campaign against corruption in a tribally based country where rule of law can be undermined by political influence.
(Writing by Suleiman al-Khalidi; Editing by Ralph Boulton)