Rabat – Morocco’s Higher Council of the Judiciary has rejected the “allegations” and “untruths” surrounding the legal proceedings related to the case of Moroccan professor Maati Monjib.
The judicial body issued a statement today to refute and condemn what it sees as “dishonest” allegations from observers who have heavily criticized the sentence against Maati Monjib.
On January 29, the Rabat Court of First Instance sentenced the professor to one year in prison.
The court handed the verdict against Monjib for several charges, including fraud, money laundering, and “undermining the integrity of the state.”
The court also condemned the professor to pay a MAD 10,000 ($1,000) fine.
Activists and human rights NGO have criticized Morocco’s judiciary system and asked for the immediate release of Maati Monjib. Leading the charge against Moroccan authorities, Amnesty International called on Morocco to “immediately and unconditionally release human rights defender Maati Monjib.”
Other human rights NGO have also urged the Rabat court to drop all charges against Monjib, questioning the motives against his arrest and imprisonment.
In response, the Superior Council expressed its determination to take all legal measures to guarantee the “independence of the judiciary and its impartiality and to preserve the dignity and respect of judges.”
The statement condemned allegations surrounding the sentence and legal procedure in the case, saying that the remarks and comments from the NGOs and other observers “deliberately distorted the truth with a selective reading of specific facts.”
For the Moroccan council, the aim of such “false” allegations is to challenge the legality of the proceedings and make “the national and international public opinion” believe that “the conditions for a fair trial were not met” in the case of Maati Monjib.
The council said Maati Monjib was attending all hearings, which started in 2015, and that the investigations he faced during the whole process aimed to determine his involvement in charges of “harming internal security and defamation.”
“He continued to attend the hearings until he decided not to be present at the last five hearings, even before his arrest in the case currently presented to the investigating judge in Rabat,” said the council’s statement.
It recalled the decision to bring Maati Monjib back to court on January 20 to appear before the investigating judge.
“After leaving the investigation office at 11:30 a.m., he was not sent back to prison and remained in court, reflecting the concern of the competent judicial authorities to allow him to exercise his right to attend the hearing relating to the 2015 trial, which began at 3.30 p.m. Because although he is in detention in connection with the money laundering case, he remains in a state of freedom in the wake of the 2015 case, for which a judgment was pronounced,” the council explained.
Responding to the allegations that the Rabat court did not allow Monjib to attend his hearing, the council said Maati Monjib was at the court while judges waited for him to join the hearing or not.
“He did not request that, neither did his defense, despite being informed of the date of the hearing.”
Security services took Monjib back to the prison after the court’s verdict. The council argued that his absence from the hearing was “a voluntary personal decision, contrary to the allegations spread online.”
While the Rabat court carried out Monjib’s trial in due form, the allegations surrounding the case only aim to“distort the truth to support baseless” data, the council said.
Monjib owned an NGO that Morocco’s Court of Auditors suspended in 2014 on allegations of money laundering.
In December 2020, online data claimed that the NGO used to receive subsidies from Dutch NGO “Free Press Unlimited” and the American organization “National Endowment for Democracy.”