Deported cleric Abu Qatada lands in Jordan from Britain

Radical Islamist cleric Abu Qatada arrived in Amman on Sunday after Britain deported him to face terror charges ending a decade-long legal battle, a Jordanian government official said.

"Abu Qatada landed at Marka airport in east Amman," the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"He was escorted by British and Jordanian guards, who handed him over to state security court prosecutors."

The military tribunal lies just outside the airport.

Abu Qatada's father, brothers and other family members stood outside the courthouse waiting for his arrival, an AFP photographer reported.

The Palestinian-born preacher, 53, was taken from prison in an armoured police van to a military airfield on the outskirts of London, from which he was flown out of Britain at 0146 GMT.

Abu Qatada was condemned to death in absentia by a Jordanian court in 1999 for conspiracy to carry out terror attacks including on the American school in Amman but the sentence was immediately reduced to life imprisonment with hard labour.

In 2000, again in his absence, he was sentenced to 15 years for plotting to carry out terror attacks on tourists in Jordan during millennium celebrations.

His deportation came after Jordan and Britain ratified a Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters aimed at removing any remaining concerns about the use of tainted evidence in Abu Qatada's retrial.

str-akh/kir