July 28, 2021

Resumption of the trial of Moroccan journalist Soulaimane Raissouni, “very tired” after 76 days of hunger strike

The trial of Moroccan journalist Soulaimane Raissouni resumed Tuesday, June 22 in Casablanca in his absence, while the defendant has been on hunger strike for seventy-six days. “His lawyers saw him yesterday, he was very tired (…) he is close to death”his wife, Kholoud Mokhtari, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) before the hearing before the Casablanca Court of Appeal.

The prison administration (DGAPR) informed the court at the start of the hearing that he had ” refuse “ to attend the trial. On Friday, the DGAPR had accused him in a press release of “Seek to deceive public opinion by observing a pseudo-hunger strike”.

“Mr. Raissouni is ready to attend his trial on condition of being transported by ambulance and having a wheelchair”, for his part assured one of his lawyers by requesting a medical report on his state of health. This weekend, the 49-year-old columnist was hospitalized twice “After losing consciousness”, according to this same source.

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Soulaimane Raissouni, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Akhbar Al-Yaoum – in bankruptcy since mid-March -, is continued for “Sexual assault” after a complaint filed by an LGBTQ activist for facts he disputes. Arrested at the end of May 2020, he says he has since lost more than 35 kg, including 18 during his hunger strike, launched to denounce the “Great injustice” of his preventive detention.

In preventive detention for nearly eleven months

Mr. Raissouni’s trial began in February, with systematic postponements of the hearing ever since. Last week, the prosecution estimated that these postponements were linked to its defense strategy, with postponements “At his request for different reasons, either to prepare his defense or for health reasons”. The defense, it, implicates “The slowness of the instruction”, which lasted almost nine months “Without bringing much new”.

“I am ready, even greedy, for this trial (…) whether it is before the court or before the tribunal of God”, wrote Mr. Raissouni last week in a letter dictated to his lawyers and shared by his wife on Facebook.

The justice rejected all his requests for release, despite a strong mobilization in Morocco and in the world. “We ask the king to intervene in order to avoid a human catastrophe for the freedom of the press”, declared Tuesday the secretary general of Reporters Without Borders, Christophe Deloire, who came to Casablanca to attend the trial of Mr. Raissouni and that of another journalist, Omar Radi.

The latter, a 34-year-old reporter, has been in preventive detention for almost eleven months on charges of “Rapes” and espionage that he disputes. He too is due to appear in the same court on Tuesday, but in a different room. “Omar Radi is ill, Soulaimane Raissouni is in serious danger (…) if the irremediable were to happen, it would tarnish the image of Morocco”, estimated Mr. Deloire, asking “That they are treated fairly”.

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The World with AFP