The Hirak activists were supposed to hear the verdict on their final appeal on March 26, but the Casablanca Court of Appeals postponed it without reporting why.
Rabat – A Casablanca court will announce its verdict in the final appeal for the convicted Hirak Rif activists, including Hirak leader Nasser Zefzafi, on Friday, April 5.
In a Facebook post, Zefzafi’s father, Ahmed Zefzafi, shared a letter from the imprisoned Hirak activists reiterating their rejection of “marginalization, opportunism, political and economic corruption,” and their call for justice, dignity, integrity, and freedom.
Although the Moroccan state rejected accusations of violence against the Hirak activists, the Hirak detainees insisted in their letter that “hundreds of [them] were subjected to torture,” and “unfair trials and sentences.”
The Hirak activists attended their appeal hearing last January 14, but Zefzafi condemned the “absence of fair trial conditions” and vowed to boycott the rest of his appeal hearings.
Quoted by his father, Zefzafi had said, “[The trial] is but a stage play by the judicial institution … Therefore, I declare to the local, national and international public that I am boycotting this trial, in which the most basic conditions of fairness do not exist.”
Responding to torture allegations by Amnesty International, Moroccan authorities said earlier this month in a statement that the NGO did not provide any evidence for its conclusion in its reports about the Hirak case.
Moroccan authorities condemned Amnesty International’s statements twice. The first time was in January when the ministry said that the NGO’s position was “blatant interference” and a “clear violation of the most basic international standards.”
Amnesty had said then that “Morocco’s judicial authorities must ensure the appeal trial does not descend into another charade marred by torture complaints and other fair trial violations.” Amnesty also condemned the heavy sentences activists received.
In June 2018, a Casablanca court handed down sentences varying from 1 to 20 years to 54 Hirak activists for participating in the “unauthorized” Hirak protests. Nasser Zefzafi received 20 years.
Between 2016 and 2017, police arrested an estimated 400 activists and protesters involved in the Hirak Rif protests in northern Morocco.
The movement began in October 2016 after the death of Mohcine Fikri, an Al Hoceima fishmonger who was crushed to death in a garbage truck while trying to save his goods that had been confiscated by authorities.
The incident caused citizens across Morocco, but particularly in the Rif region, to rise in major protests against social disparities in Morocco.