Rabat – Tindouf’s self-styled criminal court, controlled by the Polisario Front, has sentenced 19 Moroccans accused of “drug trafficking” to sentences ranging from 15 to 17 years and eight months in prison. No official Moroccan communication has confirmed the news so far.
The Moroccans were arrested on July 18 in Gueltat Zemmour, south-west of Tindouf in a likely attempt to divert attention from the drug trade within its own camps. They were accused of “transporting drugs” to the territory controlled by the separatist troops, according to a statement released on November 6 by the Polisario mouthpiece Sahara Press.
In the trial that started on October 31, the 19 Moroccans were also accused of “falsification and use of counterfeiters,” while another Sahrawi accused is still on the run. The separatist front also accused Rabat of “organizing” the network.
During the trial, Polisario’s general prosecutor’s office demanded a 20-year prison sentence against the 19 Moroccan and the issuing of an arrest warrant against the fugitive, as well as a fine of DZD 1 million each.
The Front also called for the seizure of the vehicle belonging to the suspect of a Polisario member, allegedly used to transport the drugs carried by the Moroccan suspects, adds the same source.
On July 18, Polisario announced the arrest of the 19 Moroccan nationals originating from the Western Sahara. The area where the individuals were arrested, which the separatist group claims is a “liberated land,” is a buffer zone over which Polisario has no legal sovereignty.
The Front used the arrest to reiterate accusations against Morocco of “plots” to smuggle drugs into Tindouf camps.
In a second article by the same site, a Sahrawi official stated that the Moroccan citizens “were held in a secret place and are awaiting trial,” and that the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) visited the “smugglers, who were stopped by the Sahrawi army.”