AMMAN - Jordan's former spy chief, once one of the country's most feared officials, went on trial on graft charges on Thursday in the first high profile case from an anti-corruption crackdown driven by popular protests.

Former General Muhammad al-Dahabi, who headed the General Intelligence Department (GID) from 2005 to 2009, pleaded not guilty to charges of embezzlement, abuse of a public post for personal gain and money-laundering.

The charges carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

The trial is unprecedented in a country where few senior officials have been tried or imprisoned. Most such trials have been held in military or special courts that bypass the judiciary and are criticised by rights advocates as unconstitutional.

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