El Bouchtaoui / Bouachrine : Freedom Now denounces unfair trials

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Members of the Freedom Now NGO./Ph. DR

In a statement released on Tuesday, Freedom Now, a Moroccan NGO that seeks to facilitate representation for arbitrarily detained individuals, denounced the lawsuit lodged against Taoufik Bouachrine, a journalist and publishing director of the Arabic-language daily newspaper Akhbar Al Youm, and the sentence pronounced against Abdessadek El Bouchtaoui, a lawyer and member of the Hirak detainees defense committee in Casablanca.

The Committee for the Protection of Freedom of Press and Expression in Morocco, affiliated to the NGO, has criticized the court’s decision pronounced on Monday in Casablanca. Taoufik Bouachrine was fined to MAD 450,000, for defamation over the Minister of agriculture, Aziz Akhannouch and Finance Minister Mohamed Bousaid, «while he has only done his job, informing the public about a file concerning the government management of a Rural Development Fund», the statement said.

The Committee also expressed its solidarity with lawyer Abdessadek El Bouchtaoui, member of the Hirak detainees defense committee in Casablanca, who appeared last Thursday before the court of first instance in Al Hoceima for «insulting officials and representatives of the authority while on duty», in addition to «insulting and threatening» public bodies. The lawyer was also prosecuted for «incitement to commit crimes» and «organizing unauthorized assemblies». He was sentenced on the 8th of February, to 20 months in prison and fined to MAD 500 by the same court.

Moreover, the NGO believes that these two pursuits are part of «another episode that represses freedom of press and expression» in Morocco.

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