Belfast Telegraph

Jordanian paralympian to face trial accused of sexual assault

BY MICHAEL DONNELLY

A Jordanian paralympian facing sex charges in Northern Ireland grabbed a therapist while she was giving him a massage, a court has heard.

Details of the allegations against wheelchair-bound Omar Sami Qaradhi emerged at a preliminary investigation at Antrim Magistrates Court.

The 32-year-old is accused of touching a therapist while being massaged and of assaulting two teenage girls in the run-up to last year's London Paralympics.

Qaradhi was yesterday returned for trial by District Judge Mervyn Bates and will be arraigned before Antrim Crown Court next month.

The court heard that an official from the Jordanian Embassy in London was present with a letter of authorisation from King Abdullah of Jordan to secure Qaradhi's bail of £5,500 with the promise of his return to stand trial.

The charges followed allegations made about Qaradhi while he was using the Antrim Forum sports complex as a training base.

In a deposition from one of Qaradhi's alleged victims, a therapist said she was giving the athlete a massage at the Antrim Forum on August 20 last year, when he put his arm on her chest.

The "shocked and disgusted" therapist said she left the room, pretending she was going to get him a glass of water. However, instead she went and reported the matter to senior management.

Later, the mother of a teenage girl told the court that her daughter confided in her that on August 16, while being photographed with members of the Jordanian team, one of them touched her. Her daughter later identified Qaradhi as her alleged attacker from a photograph in a local newspaper.

A policewoman also told the court she was on duty in Antrim Police Station two days later when a different teenage girl reported another incident at the Antrim Forum. Qaradhi declined to give any evidence at the hearing.

BACKGROUND

Jordanian paralympic athletes Omar Sami Qaradhi, Faisal Hammash and Motaz al-Junadi were arrested on sexual assault charges in August of last year, just before the start of the London Paralympics and were removed from competition. The charges were later withdrawn against 36-year-old trainer Fammash and 46-year-old al-Junadi.

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