Rabat - The King's Eid royal pardon allegedly included some Hirak Rif activists who were sentenced to prison for their involvement in unauthorized protests in Al Hoceima.
Rabat – The King’s Eid royal pardon allegedly included some Hirak Rif activists who were sentenced to prison for their involvement in unauthorized protests in Al Hoceima.
Major news outlets and international television channels, including Al Hadath, announced the news Tuesday evening.
Al Hadath initially reported that the King granted his royal pardon to 11 of the activists. The television channel then quoted an unidentified source close to the King, who confirmed the news, but estimated the number of absolved members at 180.
Morocco’s Minister of Human Rights Mustapha Ramid confirmed the news on Facebook, emphasizing that 184 activists were released.
Of those, 173 were charged in Al Hoceima’s court, according to the minister.
Morocco’s state-owned press, Maghreb Arab Press (MAP), announced that the King granted a royal pardon to a total of 889 prisoners today—the eve of Eid al-Adha. However, the state news agency did not mention any of the Hirak Rif activists.
Moroccan news outlet Hespress quoted a member of the Hirak Rif activists’ defense team, Mohamed Ghanaj, who claimed that 11 Hirak activists who were jailed in Casablanca’s Oukacha prison benefited from the royal pardon.
Ghanaj added that the pardoned activists had all originally been sentenced to less than 3 years.
Francophone news outlet Le Desk announced that the King ordered the release of 160 Moroccan activists.
The Casablanca Court of Appeals issued sentences ranging from 1 to 15 years in prison to 49 activists on June 26 for activists and protesters involved in the 2016-2017 Al Hoceima protests. However the Hirak movement’s prominent leaders, Nasser Zefzafi and Nabil Ahemjik, received 20 years in prison. Two others, Ouassim El Boustati and Samir Ghid also received 20 years.
The total number of Hirak activists arrested between 2016 and 2018 is estimated at more than 400 activists.
The 53 activists sentenced in June were prosecuted for “undermining the internal security of the state,” and “preparing a conspiracy against internal security.”
The activists were found guilty of several serious charges, including participation in the unauthorized demonstrations that broke out in the northern Al Hoceima province after the death of a local fishmonger, Mouhcine Fikri, in October 2016.
When a policeman confiscated his fish, Fikri climbed on top of a garbage truck to retrieve his goods. The crushing mechanism of the truck activated and crushed him fatally. The incident caused outrage and protests in Al Hoceima and the surrounding areas. Chanting social slogans, the protesters decried social disparities in the region.