Owner of Jerusalem Restaurant who caused explosion skips court appearance, warrant issued

CINCINNATI -- A Clifton Heights restaurant owner who pleaded guilty to causing an explosion in his own business was scheduled to appear in a Hamilton County courtroom Tuesday for sentencing but failed to show up and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.

Aiman Arabeiat, owner of the Jerusalem Restaurant, pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated arson. A second count was dropped. He faces up to eight years in prison.

His son, Amjud, was originally charged with tampering with evidence but pleaded to obstruction, a lesser charge, and was ordered to pay fines.

Aiman's attorney and son say they have not heard from him since October.

Aiman Arabeiat suffered second-degree burns in the November 11 explosion, as well as injuries to his head and lungs from breathing in hot fumes.

Prosecutors said Arabeiat rigged a hot plate to set a paper towel on fire in the restaurant. But the plan backfired because he poured gasoline in the basement and the vapors ignited, causing an explosion.

The restaurant was closed at the time and no one else was injured.

Arabeiat's son, Amjud, was waiting outside at the time of the explosion and drove him to the hospital, police said.

Prosecutors said Amjud was caught on hospital surveillance video hiding his father's clothing.

The restaurant had closed because of financial problems, workers at nearby stores said. Friends of Arabeiat said he closed down the eatery to remodel after plans to sell the business fell through.

Aiman is scheduled to appear in court at 9 a.m.


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