Moroccan justice confirms prison sentences against Hirak demonstrators | New


The court of appeal confirms the prison sentence of activists linked to the Hirak movement in northern Morocco.

A Casablanca appeals court upheld prison sentences of up to 20 years for dozens of activists linked to the Hirak protest movement that rocked the Rif region in northern Morocco at the end of 2016.

Friday’s decision against 42 protesters was greeted with cries of a “corrupt state” from relatives of the defendants.

The leader of Al-Hirak al-Chaabi, or “Popular Movement”, Nasser Zefzafi and three other men have had their 20-year prison sentences confirmed for endangering state security.

Zefzafi, 39, was arrested in May 2017 after staging protests in his predominantly Amazigh hometown of Al Hoceima over economic and social issues.

“There is no hope … this trial has been unfair from the start and that is how it ended,” defense lawyer Souad Brahma said.

State lawyer Mohamed Al Houssaini Karout, however, said the court upheld the verdict “because there was nothing new to consider after the defendants and their lawyers refrained from attending the hearings. “.

The court was “lenient” in sentencing Zefzafi to 20 years in prison because he was tried on charges carrying a sentence of up to 30 years, he said.

Other sentences also confirmed on appeal ranged from one to 15 years. Eleven others were pardoned last year by King Mohammed VI of Morocco.

Journalist Hamid el Mahdaoui was sentenced to three years in prison for failing to tell police that he had been offered weapons during the protests – what he called an “imaginary crime”.

“It is an injustice,” his wife told AFP news agency.

The predominantly ethnically Berber Rif region has long enjoyed strained relations with central Moroccan authorities and was at the heart of protests inspired by the Arab Spring in 2011.

The main protests died down following a series of political reforms, including constitutional changes that saw King Mohammed VI relinquish some of his vast powers.

About Wesley V. Finley

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