Morocco’s Truth and Justice Commission has planned a protest at Parliament in defense of Taoufik Bouachrine, a prominent journalist facing sexual assault charges.
Rabat- The protest, starting at 6 p.m. today, will come during the sentencing hearing which started Friday afternoon and will announce the verdict in Bouachrine’s case at the Casablanca Court of Appeals.
Nearly 10 months since his arrest and repeated delays in his trial, Bouachrine will give his closing argument Friday before the court hands down its ruling.
The Truth and Justice Commission condemns the “use of judicial power to settle differences in political opinions” and rejects “the crackdown on journalists and freedom of the press in the country.”
In a press statement, the commission wrote: “All those who care for the freedom of press are invited to join the protest before the Parliament at six p.m., to bring justice for Bouachrine” and call for a “fair trial.”
Bouachrine is the owner and director of the Akhbar Al Yaoum newspaper and Al Yaoum 24 news website. Police arrested the journalist at the newspaper’s headquarters in Casablanca.
Read Also: Moroccan Students March in Protests of GMT+1
Bouachrine is facing several charges, including exploiting people in need, and abusing power for sexual purposes—complaints brought by his coworkers.
The journalist is also suspected of other crimes, including violent rape and attempted rape. Some believe the charges were fabricated because of Bouachrine’s critical reporting on prominent politicians.
Bouachrine appeared before the criminal court in Casablanca for the first time on March 8 after he was arrested and put into custody on February 28.
A lawyer for one of the complainants, Mohamed Kerrout, said in September that some leaked videos and screenshots of evidence published in some Moroccan news outlets were real. Some of the photos published showed what appears to be Bouachrine with women in his office.