Rabat – The judge of Casablanca’s Appeal Court has pronounced sentences against detained Hirak Rif activists. Two leaders of the protest movement, Nasser Zefzafi and Nabil Ahemjik, received 20 years in prison.
The court gave the heavy sentences against the activists on Tuesday night.
Activist Ouassim El Boustati and Samir Ghid also received 20 years in prison, while Zakaria Adehchour, Mohamed Haki, and Mohamed Bouhenouch received 15 years in prison.
Mohamed Jelloul, Karim Amghar, Salah Lackham, Omar Bouharass, Bilal Ahaddad, Jamal Bouhaddou, and Achraf Yakhloufi have all received 10 years in prison.
Those sentenced to 5 years in prison and a fine of MAD 2,000 are Mohamed El Majjaoui, Chakir Makhrout, Rabii Ablak, Ilyass Hajji, Souleimane Fahili, Mohamed Asrihi, Lahbib Hannoudi, Abdelali Houd, Ibrahim Abakoui, and Houcine El Idrissi.
The court sentenced to 3 years in prison Ibrahim Bouziane, Othmane Bouziane, Youssef Hamdioui, Mohammed Enaimi, and Mohamed El Hadi. Rachid Aamarouch, Abdellatif El Mousaoui, Youssef Fadel, Jawad Sabiri, Abdelmouhcine Atari, Jamal Mouna, and Abdelaziz Khali received a sentence of 2 years and a fine of MAD 2,000.
Zakaria Kadouri was sentenced to 1 year in prison and a fine of MAD 2,000.
Said Benhemmani, a member of the activists’ defense team, criticized the sentencing, emphasizing that the team was “surprised by these convictions, … sentences are very severe. We have ten days to appeal. We will first consult with our clients before making any decision.”
The activists were found guilty of several heavy charges, including participation in unauthorized demonstrations which broke out in the northern Al Hoceima province between 2016 and 2017.
Others were prosecuted for “undermining the internal security of the state,” and “preparing a conspiracy against internal security.”
The protests began after the death of Mouhcine Fikri, a local fishmonger working in the informal economy. He was crushed to death in a garbage truck in October 2016 while attempting to retrieve goods that authorities had confiscated.
The incident resulted in many protests in Al Hoceima and the surrounding areas. Chanting social slogans, the protesters decried 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 delay of royal development projects in Al Hoceima.
Subsequently, King Mohammed VI fired several ministers, including Mohamed Hassad, former Minister of Education; El Houssaine El Ouardi, former Minister of Health; and Mohammed Nabil Benabdellah, former Minister of National Planning, Urban Planning, and Housing.