[JURIST] A Jordan military court on Wednesday sentenced Abu Musab al-Zarqawi [BBC profile], the alleged head of al Qaeda in Iraq, and eight other men to death for conspiring to attack several sites in Jordan with explosives and toxic chemicals. Al-Zarqawi and three of the defendants were sentenced in absentia, but the other five, including the mastermind behind the 2004 plot, were present when the judge handed down the sentences. Another two defendants received one to three year prison sentences and an additional two were acquitted of being involved in the conspiracy to attack the US embassy in Jordan, the prime minister's office and other sites.
Al-Zarqawi has been sentenced to death in absentia by Jordan courts on two prior occasions. In December 2005, he received the death penalty [JURIST report] in connection with a failed suicide bombing on the Jordan-Iraq border and he was also sentenced to death in connection with the murder of a US diplomat [Islamonline.net report] in 2002. Last March, a Jordan court sentenced al-Zarqawi to 15 years [JURIST report] for a plot to attack the Jordan embassy in Iraq. AP has more.