Rabat – Al Hoceima’s Court of Appeals handed down jail sentences increased by up to two years in prison against 13 Hirak protesters standing accused of participating in “unauthorized demonstrations,” said Spanish news agency EFE.
EFE reported that most of these activists were sentenced in the Court of First Instance. The new jail terms range from six to 18 months.
The court of appeals accused the detained activists of “assaulting law enforcement officers and for the alleged use of violence against public forces, and incitement of other people to commit crimes.”
The court has also reduced one activist’s sentence from two years to one year and a half.
Approximately 400 Hirak activists were arrested in a crackdown on protests held in Al Hoceima province between 2016 and 2017, following the death of Mouhcine Fikri, a local fishmonger who was crushed to death in a garbage truck.
The incident resulted in many protests in Al Hoceima and the surrounding areas. Chanting social slogans, the protesters decryied social disparities in the region. To respond to the Rif demonstrations, King Mohammed VI tasked Driss Jettou, First President of the Court of Auditors to present him with a report regarding the royal development projects delayed in Al Hoceima.
Last October, King Mohammed VI fired four ministers, including Mohamed Hassad, former Minister of Education, El Houssaine El Ouardi, former Minister of Health, and Mohammed Nabil Benabdellah.
The positions of the fired ministers were left vacant until January 22, when the King finally appointed new officials.
Jettou’s report, commissioned by the King on October 2, clearly traced these serious dysfunctions to the tenure of the previous government led by Abdelilah Benkirane.
“At the level of implementation of the programmed projects, there has been a significant delay in the launching of projects, and the vast majority of them have not been launched at all, with the absence of concrete initiatives by some of the actors involved in their actual launch,” read the statement of the Royal Cabinet.