Agadir – The Rabat Court of Appeal has banned the Moroccan parliamentary advisor Abdelwahab Belfkih from leaving the country. The verdict came during an ongoing criminal prosecution concerning large-scale theft of land and property in the province of Guelmim.
Local Moroccan media have reported that the criminal chamber at the Rabat Court of Appeal held a hearing to try the parliamentary adviser Abdelwahab Belfkih and 10 other defendants. The parliamentary advisor for the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP) was summoned to court over the alleged use of falsified documents to acquire real estate and land in the region.
Of the 11 people tried, five of the defendants, including Belfkih, have been banned from leaving the country. The penalty for forgery can be up to twenty years in prison.
The Moroccan daily newspaper Al Akhbar reported that a National Brigade of the Judicial Police (BNPJ) investigation alleges that Belfkih and his accomplices carried out a large-scale theft of real estate and land. Allegedly, the group used falsified testimonies from local farmers to attest to the veracity of transactions.
However, during the BNPJ investigation, the farmers denied giving testimony, instead claiming that they were misrepresented by the group. The farmers explained to the investigators that the accused acquired the farmer’s identity cards with promises to register them for social aid for agricultural workers.
The group already appeared at a trial in Agadir Court of Appeal in 2020, where the judge dismissed the case. Further investigation however revealed that the judge was a part of the conspiracy, leading to the case being moved to the Criminal Chamber of the Court of Appeal of Rabat.
A study conducted by Transparency International in 2019 revealed that 74% of Moroccans believe that the government is not doing enough to tackle corruption and that politicians are actively involved in corrupt practices. Meanwhile, the Corruption Perceptions Index for 2020 ranked Morocco 86th out of 180 countries worldwide.