The alleged rape case has sparked outrage among Moroccans who called for severe punishment for the suspect in case of conviction.
Rabat – The examining magistrate at the Criminal Chamber of Agadir’s Court of Appeal has ordered the detention of the suspect in the alleged rape case of Ikram, a six-year-old girl from the region of Tata, in southern Morocco.
The court made the decision on Wednesday, June 10, the child’s lawyer, Houssine Bekkare, told Moroccan television channel 2M.
The court’s decision to detain the suspect came five days after an initial decision to grant the suspect provisional release.
The case dates back to June 4, when the suspect, a neighbor of the girl’s family, allegedly raped the young girl.
Two days later, on June 6, the Court of Appeal of Agadir decided to release the alleged rapist on bail after the victim’s father withdrew his complaint.
While the judge explained that the provisional release decision was based on the withdrawal of the complaint, as well as a medical report that does not prove the rape allegations, Forum Iffous, an NGO supporting the alleged rape victim, said that the father withdrew his claim “under pressure” and mentioned a “secret” medical report.
Soon after the suspect’s release, hundreds of citizens took to the streets in the small town of Fem Lahssen, Ikram’s hometown, to protest the decision.
Viral videos on social media showed groups of protesters holding several banners that call for justice. One of the banners read: “Coronavirus is deadly, but child abuse is even more fatal.”
In addition to the protests, Ikram’s case has also prompted Moroccans to launch an online petition calling for the detention of the suspect.
In only three days, more than 204,000 people signed the petition on Change.org.
Agadir’s Court of Appeal had initially scheduled the hearing session on Ikram’s case for September 1, nearly three months after the alleged incident. However, as the suspect is now back behind bars, the court will have to schedule the session on a closer date, Ikram’s lawyer said.
Under Morocco’s penal code, the suspect might face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of raping a minor.