A Jordanian soldier who murdered seven Israeli schoolgirls during a class trip in 1997 will be released after serving 20 years in prison, an official in Jordan's government said on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press.
Mohammed Momani, a spokesman for the government in Amman, said that terrorist Ahmed Daqamseh is to be freed next week, possibly on Monday, after completing his term.
Daqamseh was a soldier in the Jordanian army when he opened fire on a group of students who were visiting the “peace island” of Naharayim on March 13, 1997, as part of a class trip.
Naharayim is located right near the Jordanian border, and Daqamseh opened fire on the girls from the Jordanian side. He killed seven of the students, and wounded six others.
A military court ultimately deemed him mentally unstable and sentenced him to life in prison, which in Jordan typically means 25 years.
Following the deadly terror attack, Jordan’s King Hussein personally visited Israel and, alongside Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, expressed his condolences to the girls' parents.
Jordanian parliamentarians have in the past lobbied for Daqamseh’s early release. In 2013, 110 out of 150 Jordanian MPs signed a petition calling for his release.
In 2011, then-Jordanian Justice Minister Hussein Mjali caused an uproar when he called for Daqamseh’s release, claiming that he is “a hero. He does not deserve prison. If a Jewish person killed Arabs, his country would have built a statue for him instead of imprisonment."
Daqamseh has denied committing any crime and has said that he should be freed from prison since he had simply fulfilled his national and religious duty by killing the students.