Middle East

Jordan releases soldier who shot Israeli schoolgirls

Ahmed Daqamseh (centre) in a Jordanian prison. Photo: August 2012 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Ahmed Daqamseh was deemed mentally unstable by a Jordanian military court

A Jordanian soldier who killed seven Israeli schoolgirls in 1997 has been released after serving 20 years in prison, Jordanian officials say.

They say Ahmed Daqamseh is now at his family home in a village near the northern city of Irbid.

Daqamseh opened fire at the Israeli pupils during their trip to an island in the border area with Jordan.

A military court deemed him mentally unstable at the time and sentenced him to life in prison.

In Jordan, this usually means 25 years. However, some lawmakers had lobbied for him to be freed early.

Israel has so far made no public comment on the soldier's release.

After the shooting, Jordan's late King Hussein personally apologised for the incident and visited the families of the dead girls in Israel to offer his condolences.

Jordan also paid compensation.

Daqamseh is seen as a hero by some opposition activists in Jordan, who oppose the country's peace treaty with Israel, signed in 1994.

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