Mustapha Tabit, the story of the last death penalty executed in Morocco

Morocco is commemorating the World Day against the Death Penalty on Tuesday, 10th of October, recalling the story of the last person sentenced to death in the country. On September 1993, the infamous police commissioner Haj Tabit was shot to death near Kenitra following a sulfurous case that shocked the Moroccan public opinion in the 90s. History.

Haj Tabit, a serial rapist, accompanied by the Royal Gendarmerie./Ph. DR
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The world is coming together today, 10 of October, to raise awareness against death penalty. An opportunity that human rights activists seize to urge some countries to abolish capital penalty. In the Kingdom, the Moroccan Coalition against the Death Penalty has called the government and legislators for several years to abolish the penalty that has not been applied in Morocco since 1993. A penalty that was linked for years to the most scandalous case that shocked the public opinion throughout the 1990s : The curious case of Haj Tabit, a police commissioner who worked for years at the Ain Sebaa Hay Mohammadi district. Arrested for carrying pornographic tapes that featured more than 500 women and several important political figures.

He was convicted on the 15th of March, shortly after his arrest and accused of indecent assault, rape, violence, abduction and of sequestrating a married woman, in addition to other assaults. The infamous commissioner was shot to death on the 5th of September of the same year in a forest near Kenitra.

A police commissioner with a hidden agenda

Mohamed Mustapha Tabit was born in 1949 in Beni Mellal. Little information is available on his life before becoming a policemen. Some accounts claim that he already worked as an Arabic teacher before joining the Police Academy in Kenitra in 1970s. In 1989, Mohamed Mustapha Tabit became a commissioner after serving in Beni Mellal for a while. He was sent to Casablanca. He got married to two women and was a father to five children. In just a few short years, Haj Tabit became one of the most powerful officials in Casablanca, to the point that no one dared getting in his way.

He quickly became notorious in the city with a clean record, and a powerful network. Tabit did not smoke nor drink alcohol and have made it repeatedly to Mecca as a pilgrimage. He used to pray and no one doubted his good manners and almost perfect reputation which helped him hide his dark side : the brilliant policeman and father was a «serial rapist» who stucked his victims for days before getting them trapped.

Versions differ when it comes to the incident that revealed the criminal side of Haj Tabit. Al Massae reports in 2015 that the case broke out during the last days of Ramadan in 1990. «A woman went to the judicial police in Ain Sebaa Hay Mohammadi to file a complaint. She and her girlfriend were reportedly kidnapped by someone called Hamid who allegedly raped her», reports the Arabic-language newspaper. The inspector in charge of the case doubted the version given by the woman and asked her to start from the beginning. She finally admitted that she has accompanied the man and was not kidnapped. After having a sexual intercourse with her «client», she went to the bathroom and discovered that everything was filmed. «She told him she had to come back to see him on the night of Eid al-Fitr to get the tape», Al Massae said. The police then asked the alleged victim to show them the place of her presumed client before discovering that he works at the same department. She was also shown pictures of several people to spot her alleged client and the woman succeeded in pointing at one of Haj Tabit.

Complains filed before the Royal Gendarmerie

Immediately after Eid al-Fitr, the inspector summoned the alleged victim to persuade her complaint. She refused, before filing another complaint with the help of a lawyer. Al Massae does not report how the case later erupted in 1993.

In an investigation conducted by Telquel in June 2007, another version was narrated. According to the magazine, a Moroccan national living in Italy who, watched a «pornographic tape» with his friends discovered that one of the girls featured in the clip was his sister who lives in Casablanca. The next day, he returned to Derb El Kheir, Casablanca looking for his sister, before realizing that she left home after meeting a man called Haj. It is believed, according to the account provided by Telquel, that the man went to Haj Tabit's flat to meet his sister before being forcibly boarded in a police van.

His second attempt allowed him to kidnap his sister and bring her back to a friend's house. He then, was told that his sister was arrested for prostitution and imprisoned without a proof, and that she eventually yielded to Haj's advances in order not to be imprisoned. The Moroccan national recorded his sister's confession and went the next day to the Italian Embassy in Rabat, as he had an Italian nationality as well. The case took another turn when Abdellatif Filali, Prime Minister learned about the incident and decided to inform King Hassan II about it urging the Royal Gendarmerie to open an investigation.

The men of Hosni Benslimane, after investigating the case, decided to raid the flat of Haj Tabit. They found a bachelor flat equipped with several cameras and nearly 118 videotapes that feature more than 518 women. In these videos, distinguished figures were also filmed. Telquel also evokes that a tape entitled 32 was dedicated to various Moroccan celebrities that were filmed by the commissioner.

Shot in a forest near Kenitra

Mustapha Tabit was therefore arrested in February 1993. He was tried on the 18th of February. Several sources suggested that Haj was tortured and the trial was criticized and denounced. On the 15th of March, the commissioner was sentenced to death for several counts. Around thirty people were accused of their complicity and involvement and were sentenced to various penalties.

Six months later, on September 5th, Haj Tabit awaken up at dawn to perform Al Fajr prayer. He has the ultimate conviction that it will be his last prayer. Shortly afterwards, gendarmes came to take him. He was then informed that he will be transferred to another detention center. But Mustapha Tabit knew. He was then taken to a forest in the vicinity of Kenitra. On the spot, prison director, the magistrates, in addition to Hosni Benslimane, head of the Gendarmerie, Ahmed Midaoui, newly appointed director general of the police, the doctor on duty and Mohamed Lididi, director of administration prison. Attached to a pole, he refused to be blindfolded and seized his last moments to pronounce two sentences: «I am condemned for things that everyone does. Except that the people who have been condemned with me have nothing to do with this story,» he said before being executed.

During the trial, several media sources reported that Haj finally claimed responsibility over the crimes, acknowledging that he had sex with hundreds of single, married, widowed women and even minor girls during the last three years. He also acknowledged that he assaulted, and blackmailed his victims. Haj Tabit also insisted that the judges view the tape number 32 whose content remains unknown until today.

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