Months after being handed a 12-year prison sentence, journalist Taoufik Bouachrine continues to generate mixed reactions from sympathy to condemnation.
Rabat – Three veteran Moroccan political figures have asked for King Mohammed VI to pardon Taoufik Bouachrine, a Moroccan journalist convicted of rape and sexual assault in the workplace.
Mohamed Bensaid Ait Idder, known as the “elder” of the Moroccan Left, and Moulay Ismail Alaoui and Moulay M’hamed Khalifa, both members of the political bureau of the Istiqlal (Independence) Party, have appealed to royal sympathy for Bouachrine.
In a letter to King Mohammed VI, the three politicians pleaded for a royal pardon for Bouachrine.
Bouachrine, who was arrested in February 2018, received a 12-year prison sentence in November after a Casablanca court convicted him of violence, rape, human trafficking, and influence peddling.
Bouachrine is the director of one of Morocco’s leading newspapers, Akhbar Al Yaoum, and its online outlet Alyaoum24. He was arrested after several female journalists who worked at his paper filed complaints of sexual assault and attempted sexual assault.
The journalist’s trial was mired in controversies. His supporters pointed to the “instrumentalization of justice,” claiming that the allegations were politically motivated. They argued Bouachrine was a victim his “critical and high-standard” journalism.
Others, including a number of his victims, welcomed the court’s verdict. Victims said the journalist’s trial was fair.
Most recently, the UN joined the list of critics of Moroccan authorities on the Bouachrine affair. The rights group said that the journalist’s trial probably had political motivations. The organization said the trial was not fair and was beset with irregularities.
Morocco quickly responded to the UN’s claims. The government said it was “surprised” by the organization’s report, which it described as “biased” and “unfounded.”