Owner of Clifton Heights restaurant damaged by explosion charged with arson

Aiman Arabeiat (Source: Hamilton County Sheriff's Office)
Aiman Arabeiat (Source: Hamilton County Sheriff's Office)

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Police have charged the owner of a Clifton Heights restaurant that was damaged in an explosion Sunday night with arson.

After an investigation conducted by the Cincinnati Fire Investigation Unit, Aiman Arabeiat, 45, was charged with purposefully causing the fire at the Jerusalem Restaurant in Clifton Heights.

Crews responded to the restaurant, located on the 200 block of West McMillan Street, at around 9:30 p.m. Sunday night to reports of a fire. Fire units reported damage to the store front from what appeared to be an explosion.

Arabeiat was hospitalized after the explosion with severe burns.  Arabeiat says he didn't cause the explosion explaining that he was planning to reopen after doing some remodeling. He says he's puzzled by the charges. "I don't know why they charged me....he went to go to the shortcut. This my restaurant...I spent money for when I fixed it.......last week I fixed the floor in the kitchen....I got contract 6-thousand dollars."

Arabeiat's attorney, Karry Holleran says her client is innocent. "Absolutely not why would he blow up his restaurant if he was inside...it doesn't make any sense...no he did not do this.

Holleran accuses police of adding insult to her client's injuries by trying to put him in jail following his arrest. "The circumstances of the arrest show that this was just a botched arrest. The Cincinnati police have a record of treating male minorities with a lack of respect and they always seem to have problems when they arrest a male minority and here we did it again."

Arabeiat has been allowed to recover at home since the jail is not equipped to handle prisoners with severe injuries. Arabeiat is due back in court Monday for arraignment.

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