Moroccan journalist Soulaimane Raissouni, sentenced to five years in prison for “Sexual assault” and on hunger strike for 96 days, benefited from a lawsuit “Fair”, assured Monday, July 12 the public prosecutor.
La justice a “Fulfilled all the conditions for a fair trial” for M. Raissouni “Prosecuted for crimes which have nothing to do with his journalistic work”, according to a press release from the prosecution. The journalist, 49, was remanded in custody in May 2020 following a complaint by an LGBT activist for “Sexual assault”, facts that he has always denied.
The editor of the daily Akhbar Al–Yaoom – closed since March for financial reasons – reaffirmed its « innocence », in a message sent Monday to one of his lawyers, Mohamed Messaoudi.
The prosecution said the journalist – absent from the hearings since June 10 – had ” refuse “ to take part in his trial, “It was therefore decided to continue the procedure in his absence”, while holding it “Informed of the progress of each hearing”. He said he was ready to attend on condition “To be transported by ambulance and to have a wheelchair”. A request rejected by the judge.
The day after his conviction on Friday, the editorialist’s support committee denounced “A political will to instrumentalize justice in order to legitimize injustice”, judging the five years in prison “As severe as it is incomprehensible”. “Justice has triumphed. All the dirty maneuvers to politicize the affair will be in vain ”, for his part wrote the complainant on Facebook.
The sentence pronounced against Mr. Raissouni caused a reaction in Morocco and internationally: in Washington on Monday, the State Department said “Disappointed” by this sentence, calling on this country ally of the United States to protect the freedom of the press.
“We believe that the legal process leading to this verdict is at odds with the fundamental promises of the Moroccan system on fair trials for individuals accused of crimes, and with the promise of the 2011 Constitution and the reform agenda of His Majesty King Mohammed VI “, said US diplomacy spokesman Ned Price. He said the United States had raised with Rabat the cases of other imprisoned Moroccan journalists, such as Omar Radi, who was prosecuted for “Rape” and for “Attack on the internal security of the State”.
Faced with criticism, the Moroccan authorities have always emphasized the independence of the judiciary and the conformity of procedures. More than 350 Moroccan and foreign personalities called on the columnist on Monday to end his hunger strike.