Morocco Jails Youtuber, Detains Journalist

Vice Principal Gets Life Imprisonment For Raping 12-Year-Old In Ekiti
File Photo

 

A Moroccan YouTuber was sentenced Thursday to four years in prison for “insulting the king” in a video broadcast on social networks, his lawyer said.

In a separate case, a Moroccan journalist and activist was charged and detained over a tweet that had criticised a court decision, his defence council told AFP.

The cases come after the Moroccan Human Rights Association had deplored in July an “escalation of violations of human rights and public and individual freedoms” in Morocco.

The YouTuber Mohamed Sekkaki, known as “Moul Kaskita”, was sentenced by a court in the western city of Settat to four years in prison, his lawyer Mohamed Ziane told AFP.

Sekkaki, whose videos usually exceed 100,000 views, was arrested in early December after posting a video in which he insulted Moroccans as “donkeys” and criticised King Mohammed VI, whose is considered “inviolable” under the constitution.

Ziani said his client would appeal the verdict.

The conviction of the YouTuber came less than a month after a Moroccan rapper was sentenced to a year in prison for “insulting a public official”.

Also on Thursday, journalist Omar Radi, 33, was detained in Casablanca and now faces trial, his lawyer Said Benhammani told AFP.

He is being prosecuted for a tweet published nine months ago criticising the judge in charge of the case against the leaders of the Hirak protest movement, he said.

Morocco’s criminal code punishes “insulting magistrates” with imprisonment of between one month and one year.

The group Reporters Without Borders in its latest annual press freedom index ranked Morocco 135th out of 180 countries.

‘Valley Of Souls’ Triumphs At Marrakesh Film Festival

British actress Tilda Swinton (R) stands as Colombian director Nicola Rincon Gille holds his trophy of the ” Etoile d’Or ” during the closing ceremony of the 18th edition of the Marrakech International Film Festival on December 7, 2019, in Marrakech. FADEL SENNA / AFP

 

 

Colombian director Nicolas Rincon Gille’s “Valley of Souls”, the story of a father’s solitary search for the bodies of his murdered sons, won top prize Saturday at the Marrakesh film festival.

It follows the journey of Jose, who comes home from a night of fishing to discover that paramilitaries have killed his two sons and dumped their bodies in the river.

So he sets off in a canoe to try to find their bodies and give them a proper burial.

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Marrakesh’s 18th annual festival was attended by top cinema stars such as Harvey Keitel, Marion Cotillard, Tilda Swinton and Robert Redford, who received a lifetime achievement award.

Toby Wallace won Best Actor for his role in the Australian comedy “Babyteeth”, directed by Shannon Murphy.

Nichola Burley and Roxanne Scrimshaw shared the Best Actress prize for British comedy “Lynn + Lucy”, directed by Fyzal Boulifa.

Tunisia’s Ala Eddine Slim was named Best Director for “Tlamess”, a drama about a soldier who deserts the army after his mother’s death.

Moroccan YouTuber Arrested For ‘Public Insults’

Morocco Rejoins African Union

 

A Moroccan YouTuber was arrested and appeared in court Tuesday for “insulting Moroccans and constitutional institutions” in a video, the kingdom’s public prosecutor announced.

Mohamed Sekkaki, known as Moul Kaskita, was detained on Sunday after publishing a video in which he criticised King Mohammed VI, considered “inviolable” by the kingdom’s constitution.

In the 12 minute YouTube video, Sekkaki said the monarch’s speeches were not followed by results, while Moroccans suffered from clientelism and nepotism.

Sekkaki, whose frequent broadcasts normally attract over 100,000 views, also insulted his compatriots, calling them ignorant and donkeys who “watch their rights being flouted without saying a word”.

The public prosecutor said it had “received several complaints” from citizens concerned by the video, which “included insults and degrading descriptions”.

When Sekkaki was arrested in the city of Settat south of Casablanca, “a small amount of drugs” was found in his possession, the prosecutor said.

He will be prosecuted for “public insults against individuals, indecent exposure through obscene gestures and behaviour, contempt of constitutional institutions and possession of drugs”.

“Many of the expressions in this video have nothing to do with freedom of expression and constitute crimes punishable by law,” the prosecutor said.

Sekkaki “received significant transfers of money from abroad in return for his activities”, the prosecutor claimed.

His arrest comes less than a week after a Moroccan rapper was sentenced to a year in prison for “insulting a public official” in a video published online.

Mohamed Mounir, known as Gnawi, was arrested last month shortly after publishing a song denouncing injustice and money-grabbing that attacked the king directly.

AFP

Morocco Pardons Journalist Jailed For Abortion

Morocco Rejoins African Union

 

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI on Wednesday issued a royal pardon for journalist Hajar Raissouni, overturning a court sentence for an “illegal abortion” and sexual relations outside marriage, the justice ministry said.

The 28-year-old will walk free “in the coming hours”, while sentences handed down to her fiance, gynaecologist, anaesthetist and a medical assistant were also overturned, an official told AFP.

Five More Bodies Found After Morocco Migrant Shipwreck

Morocco Rejoins African Union

 

The bodies of five more Moroccans were recovered Monday after their inflatable boat headed for Spain sank off Casablanca, raising the death toll to at least 12, local officials said.

Seven bodies were found hours after the migrant boat sank in the Atlantic on Saturday and three other Moroccans pulled out of the water unconscious were hospitalised.

It was unclear how many people were on the boat, and rescue workers have kept up their search.

Since January, more than 15,000 migrants have reached Spain by sea, according to Spanish authorities.

Many depart from Morocco’s northern Mediterranean coast, just a few dozen kilometres (miles) from the south of Spain, far shorter than the Atlantic route.

But overall arrivals in Spain by sea have decreased significantly this year.

Last year, Moroccan authorities stopped some 89,000 “irregular immigration attempts”, of which 29,000 were by sea, according to official figures.

The European Union committed 140 million euros ($155 million) in 2018 towards managing migration from Morocco.

The migrants come mostly from West African countries, but in the past two years increasing numbers of young Moroccans have tried to leave, driven out by social inequality and high youth unemployment.

AFP

Morocco Journalist Gets 1-Year Jail For ‘Illegal Abortion’

Vice Principal Gets Life Imprisonment For Raping 12-Year-Old In Ekiti
File Photo

 

A Rabat court on Monday sentenced Moroccan journalist Hajar Raissouni to one year in jail for having had an “illegal abortion” and sexual relations outside marriage.

Her gynaecologist was sentenced to two years and her Sudanese fiance one year in prison, while an anaesthetist was handed a one-year suspended sentence and a medical assistant eight months, also suspended.

Lawyers for 28-year-old Raissouni had called for her acquittal during the trial, denying she had had an abortion.

A journalist for Akhbar Al-Yaoum — an Arabic-language newspaper which has a history of run-ins with the authorities — she was sentenced under Article 490 of Morocco’s legal code.

That article punishes sexual relations out of wedlock, while the law also forbids all abortions unless the mother’s life is in danger.

Raissouni was arrested on August 31 as she left a clinic in Rabat.

In court, she denied having had an abortion and said she had been treated for internal bleeding — testimony backed up by her gynaecologist.

The journalist denounced a “political trial”, saying she had been questioned by police about her family — including an uncle who is an outspoken Islamist newspaper columnist — and about her own writing.

The prosecution insisted she had been seen by a medic and showed signs of pregnancy and of having undergone a “late voluntary abortion”.

It had contended her detention had “nothing to do with her profession as a journalist”.

11 Sailors Missing After Collision Off Western Sahara

Morocco Rejoins African Union

 

Eleven sailors have gone missing after their trawler collided with a cargo ship off Western Sahara, Morocco’s official MAP press agency reported Friday.

The Panama-flagged Montelaura cargo ship on Thursday night struck the Al-Akhawayn about 60 kilometres (37 miles) from the Western Sahara port of Dakhla, MAP said citing local officials.

Five sailors aboard the fishing boat were rescued and “all means have been mobilised” to try to find the missing 11, the news agency reported.

One Dead, Five Injured As Morocco Football Fans Clash

Morocco Rejoins African Union

 

One person was killed and five injured in clashes between rival football fans after a cup tie near the Moroccan city of Casablanca, local authorities said Wednesday.

“A group of supporters of Wydad Casablanca (club) stopped a vehicle carrying fans of AS FAR Rabat, throwing stones and the situation degenerated,” they said in a statement.

They said one person died of his injuries after “falling from on top of the vehicle” and five others were hospitalised.

Police made six arrests over the violence which followed a 3-1 defeat for the home club.

Football violence is common in Morocco costing the lives of supporters in March 2016, after which authorities temporarily cracked down on radical supporters clubs.

AFP

Eighth Body Found After Morocco Football Match Flood

 

Morocco authorities said Monday they had found the body of a person missing after a flood hit a football pitch, bringing to eight the number of people killed in last week’s tragedy.

The flood took place when a nearby river burst its banks in the southern region of Taroudant on Wednesday.

A 17-year-old boy and six elderly men were killed and have since been buried, while rescuers continued the search for an eight victim who was swept away by the flood, authorities said.

The last body was found some 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the village of Tizret near where an amateur football tournament had been taking place.

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Photographs and videos shared on social media showed muddy waters carrying away people who had clambered on top of a building flattened by the flood.

Authorities have opened an investigation and the government has promised to take several measures to avoid such tragedies in the future.

Morocco’s national weather service had warned of the risk of stormy rains on Wednesday afternoon in several provinces.

The heavy downpour followed a dry spell, making the floods more violent, local media reported.

Floods are common in Morocco. In late July, 15 people died in a landslide caused by flash floods on a road south of Marrakesh.

In 2014, floods killed around 50 people and caused considerable damage in the south of the country.

Between 2000 and 2013, a series of 13 major floods killed a total of 263 people in Morocco and caused considerable damage to infrastructure worth $427 million, according to the World Bank.

A study published in 2015 pointed to multiple failures in infrastructure maintenance, prevention, warning and emergency management.

155 Migrants Force Entry Into Spain’s Ceuta Enclave

Migrants are arrested after they force their way into the Spanish territory of Ceuta on August 30, 2019. Over 150 migrants made their way into Ceuta after storming a barbed-wire border fence with Morocco Antonio SEMPERE / AFP

 

A group of 155 migrants forced their way into Spain’s North African enclave of Ceuta from Morocco on Friday, Spanish authorities said.

“They are all from sub-Saharan Africa, the majority from Guinea,” a spokesman for the central government’s office in Ceuta told AFP.

They broke through the barbed wire fence bordering Morocco early Friday morning, taking advantage of misty conditions, slightly hurting 12 police officers who tried to stop them, he said.

Several migrants were treated for cuts.

Spanish media said some of them jumped over while the majority broke through a door in the fence.

This is the first time in a year that migrants have managed to storm the barbed wire fence that separates Ceuta from Morocco as a group, the spokesman said.

Spain’s two North African enclaves, Melilla and Ceuta, have the European Union’s only land borders with Africa.

Since the start of the year, 3,427 migrants have entered these two cities, 18.1 per cent less than in 2018, according to the latest interior ministry figures.

Of these, 671 arrived in Ceuta.

Once on Spanish territory, they are usually taken to a migrant reception centre where they can ask for asylum.

Morocco Flooding Kills Seven – Officials

Morocco Rejoins African Union

 

At least seven people died Wednesday when a river burst its banks and flooded a village football pitch where a game was being played in south Morocco, local authorities and a witness said.

Eight men who had sought refuge in the changing rooms were swept away in the floodwater after heavy showers hit the Taroudant region late in the day, an eyewitness told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“We’re in shock, I’m 64 years old and I’ve never seen such a downpour,” the witness said.

Search and rescue operations were underway to find further victims, officials said.

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Photographs and videos shared on social media showed muddy waters carrying away people who had clambered on top of a building flattened by the flooding.

Morocco’s national weather service had warned of the risk of stormy rains on Wednesday afternoon in several provinces.

The heavy downpour followed a dry spell, making the floods more violent, local media reported.

Floods are common in Morocco. In late July, 15 people died in a landslide caused by flash floods on a road south of Marrakesh.

Morocco Landslide Leaves 15 Dead

Morocco Rejoins African Union

 

Moroccan emergency crews pulled 15 bodies from the mud after a rare summer downpour triggered a landslide that buried a minibus, authorities said Friday, providing the first official toll.

The victims — eleven women, three men and one child — were found in the bus buried some 20 metres (more than 60 feet) under the masses of earth and rock dislodged by the rain, local authorities said.

“There are no survivors,” they said in a statement.

The official toll comes after public broadcaster 2M reported Friday morning that 16 bodies had been recovered.

The bus was buried Wednesday evening when a deluge in the Atlas mountains south of Marrakesh triggered flash flooding.

Images released by the authorities show excavators working to dig a path to the bus, more than 24 hours after it was engulfed by the debris.

A weather alert on Tuesday warned of storms in several provinces in the North African country, which rarely receives summer rains.

Investment in Morocco’s road network has largely focused on the main transport arteries and many rural areas can be reached only by dirt tracks that are vulnerable to extreme weather.

Every year, nearly 3,500 people are killed on the North African country’s roads.

AFP