Moroccan security services have based their arrest of historian Maati Monjib on charges stipulated in the country’s penal code, claimed Meriem Jamal Idrissi, a lawyer at the court of Casablanca.
Jamal Idrissi made the statement in response to some news outlets and foreign NGOs who claim that the arrest and detention of Monjib was “arbitrary and against legal procedure.”
The Court of First Instance in Rabat ordered the arrest of Maati Monjib on December 29, 2020. The controversial historian and professor is facing money laundering charges.
Investigations about the money laundering suspicions have been ongoing since 2015. However, security services only arrested Monjib recently, after Morocco’s National Brigade of Judicial Police (BNPJ) collected enough evidence to legally justify the detention, according to the lawyer.
In a statement to Morocco’s state media, lawyer Jamal Idrissi explained that the criticism that followed the arrest “lacks legal accuracy and promotes fallacies.”
“The procedures that were followed in Mr. Monjib’s case are legal and sound procedures that respect all the requirements of the penal procedure code and the provisions of Article 23 of the Constitution,” she said.
Article 23 of the Moroccan Constitution sets several regulations for police arrests, such as compliance with the Penal Code, presumption of innocence, and immediate notification of the charges facing the arrested suspect.
Responding to criticism about the circumstances of the arrest — the arrest took place while Maati Monjib was having lunch outside with a friend — Jamal Idrissi said that the law allows police officers to make arrests in all public spaces.
The lawyer also explained that the arrest took place in public because Monjib did not respond to a judicial summons.
The BNPJ summoned the suspect to appear before the public prosecutor on December 29 at 9 a.m. However, he did not respond. Moroccan police officers moved to arrest several hours after he was absent from the hearing.
Regarding the absence of a lawyer when Monjib appeared before the public prosecutor, Jamal Idrissi claimed that the law allows it under certain conditions.
According to Morocco’s penal procedure code, suspects can appear before the public prosecutor without a lawyer in the case of preliminary investigations, Jamal Idrissi clarified.
The presence of a lawyer is only mandatory when the suspect appears before the investigating judge or in court, she claimed.
The lawyer dismissed critics who claim that the arrest of Maati Monjib was ordered because of his “human rights activism.”
“There are many critics and human rights defenders in Morocco and they are not arrested, because they respect the law,” Jamal Idrissi said. “But, those who do not respect the law must be punished without discrimination. They cannot have privileges and immunity that distinguish them from other citizens only because they have a critical pen or tongue.”
The lawyer concluded her statement by calling on Moroccans to condemn the “false allegations that seek to harm the reputation of security institutions in Morocco.”