In the early hours on June 19, the Moroccan court in Sale pronounced heavy sentences against 24 Saharawi political prisoners, ranging from 4 years to life in prison.
The group was arrested in November 2010, after clashes erupted in the Western Sahara when Moroccan security forces dismantled Saharawi camp of Gdeim Izik, where thousands of Sahrawis were protesting for political, social and economic demands.
The entire group had been originally condemned in February 2013 by a military tribunal, based on testimonies obtained under torture, as documented by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
Most were given harsh sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment.
On 27 July 2016, Morocco’s court of cassation ruled that the Gdeim Izik prisoners would be granted a civilian retrial before the Rabat court of appeals. Most of the group have already served more than six years in prison.
Saharawi political prisoners had conducted several times hunger strikes to protest against their arbitrary detention and unfair trial.
International organisations, as well as the families of the prisoners, had on several occasions requested a fair trial in accordance with the international law on this issue.
Earlier on the last 17th of July, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch called in a joint statement “Morocco’s judicial authorities should ensure that upcoming verdicts in a mass trial are not based on confessions or statements implicating other defendants obtained under torture or other ill-treatment during police interrogations”.
The civilian court of Rabat has issued the following verdict:
– Sentenced to life in prison:
Mohamed El Bachir Boutinguiza
Sidi Abdallah B’hah
– Sentenced to 30 years in prison:
– Sentenced to 25 years in prison:
El Houssin Ezzaoui
Mohamed Lamin Haddi
Mohamed Embarek Lefkir
Babait Mohamed Khuna
Sidahmed Lemjeyid (down from life in prison as ordered by the military court)
– Sentenced to 20 years in prison:
El Bachir Khadda
Mohamed El Ayoubi
– Granted liberty
Deich Daf has been condemned to six and a half years, which is less than the time he has so far spent in prison. Daf had been sentenced to 25 years by the military court.
Larabi El Bakay has been condemned to four and a half years, which is less than the time he has so far spent in prison. The military court had sentenced El Bakay to 25 years.
The IUSY World Festival 2017, which has taken place in Jale, Albania:
- Condemn the verdicts issued by the Moroccan court of Sale against the group of Saharawi political prisoners of Gdeim Izik.
- Demand the Moroccan authorities to provide a fair trial for all Saharawi political prisoners and human rights defenders in accordance with international law requirements.
- Demand the immediate release of all Saharawi political prisoners in Moroccan jails.
- Urge the UN to accelerate the peace process in Western Sahara by organizing the referendum to bring this long standing conflict to an end.