Rabat - Morocco’s Government Spokesperson Mustapha El Khalfi has commented on the heavy prison sentences given to Moroccan activists, saying that the “government does not have the right to interfere in court cases.”
Rabat – Morocco’s Government Spokesperson Mustapha El Khalfi has commented on the heavy prison sentences given to Moroccan activists, saying that the “government does not have the right to interfere in court cases.”
In a press briefing after the Government Council on Thursday in Rabat, El Khalfi argued that “the judiciary is independent from the government,” and that the cabinet cannot interfere“ because it does not fall within its jurisdiction, in accordance with the constitution and the democratic rules.”
He added that the defendants, whose sentences ranged from 1 to 20 years, can appeal the court’s decision, adding that “the head of government and the minister of state for human rights follow this file very closely.”
The Casablanca Court of Appeals also sentenced Moroccan journalist Hamid El Mahdaoui to 3 years in prison for “inciting participation in a banned protest” and “threatening national security.”
When the court decided to sentence the Hirak leaders, including Nasser Zefzafi, to 20 years in prison on Tuesday night, the court separated Mahdaoui’s case from the rest of the Hirak defendants, trying him separately Thursday.
Police arrested El Mahdaoui on July 20, 2017, for giving a speech at Place Mohammed VI in Al Hoceima encouraging the crowd to join a banned protest.
El Khalfi’s statement is the first official reaction of the government to the activists’ sentences, which were heavily criticized by protesters who took to the streets of Nador, Rabat, and Casablanca on Wednesday to condemn the sentences.
Journalists, human rights activists, and citizens gathered together in front of the government to chant anti-government slogans and to criticize the justice system in Morocco. Demonstrators called for the immediate release of the convicted activists.