] LONDON – The NGO Amnesty International (AI) denounced in a report, the serious irregularities of judicial procedure committed by the court of first instance of Casablanca in Morocco, against the journalists and militants apprehended in connection with the peaceful demonstrations of the Hirak Movement in the Rif region, calling for justice, in a report released Monday the NGO.
Dozens of protesters were seen last June, deprived of their right to a fair trial by the court of first instance of Casablanca, which declared 54 people related to the protests in favor of the social justice of movement of the Rif guilty of security-related offenses and sentenced them to prison terms of up to 20 years in connection with the protests that took place in Al Hoceima in 2016 and 2017
No less than 43 people are now being retried by the Casablanca Court of Appeal. The court postponed the first hearing to December 17.
Amnesty International's trial analysis uncovered several violations of the right to a fair trial, including convictions based on "confessions" extracted under torture. It lists the names of the detainees, the charges against them, and the sentences handed down.
"The first-instance procedure resulted in a flagrant miscarriage of justice: the Moroccan government used this flawed legal procedure to punish and silence prominent peaceful protesters who demand greater social justice and to deter citizens from expressing themselves, "said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International's North Africa and Middle East director.
Ms. Morayef urged Morocco's judicial authorities to ensure that the appeal trial "is not just a new mockery of justice" with complaints of torture and other violations of the right to a fair trial.
"They must show that they are determined to do justice and take concrete measures to remove all confessions obtained under torture or the threat of torture and to ensure that all rights to a fair trial are respected. during the appeal proceedings, "she said.
Peaceful Events Transformed into Serious Charges
While the trial was linked to peaceful demonstrations, the prosecution has introduced serious and often disproportionate charges, adds the report D'AI, punishable by penalties among the heaviest of the Moroccan Penal Code, including "conspiracy to to undermine the internal security of the state ", punishable by the death penalty.
According to the investigation conducted by the NGO, the trial is tainted with "serious irregularities and files are mounted from questionable elements, not respecting the conditions relating to judicial investigations", qualifying their conditions of detention of "inhuman."
Hirak movement leader Nasser Zefzafi told the Casablanca Court of Appeal that police beat him during his arrest on May 29, 2017 and was placed in solitary confinement for more than 15 months in "conditions that are tantamount to torture threatening to attack his elderly mother", wrote AI.
"Journalist Rabie Lablak reported that police officers choked him by stuffing a cloth soaked in a foul-smelling liquid in his mouth, took off his clothes and brought in masked men who threatened to rape him collectively, "said the NGO.
The Hirak movement's protests in the Rif began in Al Hoceima, a town in the north of the country, and around in October 2016, after Mouhcine Fikri, a fishmonger, was crushed by a garbage collection truck. he was trying to recover his goods confiscated by the local authorities.
Protesters call for an end to the marginalization of their communities and demand better social justice
Between May and July 2017, Moroccan security forces arrested hundreds of protesters from the Hirak movement, including peaceful protesters El Mortada Iamrachen and Nawal Benaissa, as well as scores of miners.
Al Hoceima's court continues to convict hundreds of protesters, journalists and human rights defenders in trials that fall far short of international standards of fairness.