Jordan: Four prominent Jordanians appeared before the state security court on Wednesday at the start of what promises to be the kingdom's biggest-ever corruption trial. Reporters were banned from the courtroom during the two-hour hearing, which was then adjourned until April 5.
The case, which I explained here in some detail last month, involves contracts for the expansion of Jordan's only oil refinery.
According to The National, at this week's court session lawyers for the four accused contested the charges and challenged the use of the state security court for the trial as well as the men's continued detention in custody.
A report in the Jordan Times summarises the prosecution's case, as set out on the charge sheet.
Saudi Arabia: The Saudis have also been stepping up their anti-corruption efforts. The latest half-yearly report from the Control and Investigation Board says that a total of 1,259 crimes involving both Saudis and foreigners were committed in various government departments, including 794 cases of bribery, during the second half of the last Hijrah year.
Algeria: Meanwhile, Britain is continuing to hesitate over the extradition of businessman Abdelmoumen Rafik Khalifa to Algeria. A decision by the British Home Secretary had been expected on March 31 but has now been postponed until April 30.
Khalifa fled to London in 2003 in the midst of Algeria's biggest-ever financial scandal. In 2007, he was convicted in his absence by an Algerian court on charges of criminal conspiracy, robbery, embezzlement and forgery.
According to the Magharebia website, "he is also wanted in France on embezzlement charges and for alleged involvement in the collapse of Khalifa Airways, Antinéa Airlines and Khalifa Rent-a-Car. Algeria's extradition request, however, takes precedence over that of France."
Posted by Brian Whitaker, 1 April 2010.