Morocco jails five protesters
Published Wednesday, September 12, 2012
A Casablanca court Wednesday sentenced five members of Morocco's February 20 opposition movement to between eight and 10 months in jail for holding an "unauthorized demonstration," their lawyer said.
"Three were condemned to 10 months in prison, two to eight months and a young woman, who appeared in the court freely, got a six-month suspended sentence," Omar Benjelloun told AFP.
They were also ordered to pay a fine of 3,000 dirhams (around 200 euros) each.
"It's a political verdict that tallies with the repressive strategy towards the February 20 Movement. We will appeal this shameful judgement," the human rights lawyer added.
The five activists, who have been held in detention in Casablanca since July 22, the day they participated in a peaceful protest, have said in previous hearings that they were tortured during their initial 72 hours in police custody.
The February 20 Movement, also know as M20, was formed last year during the Arab Spring uprisings to protest a wide range of social grievances and to demand meaningful political reform from Morocco's King Mohammed VI.
After the verdict, the families of the condemned activists "became totally hysterical and one of the mothers of the detainees fainted," a witness told AFP.
"The judge hadn't even finished announcing the verdict before dozens of activists in the court began shouting 'Long live the people!'" he added.
Moroccan human rights groups estimate nearly 70 members of the February 20 movement are currently in jail, and activists have held protests to demand their release, including one in Casablanca late last month.