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Disappearance of a Moroccan woman questions judicial cooperation of Rabat and Amsterdam

The disappearance and alleged death of Ilham B., a Moroccan woman who lived in the Netherlands, is giving the Dutch authorities a hard time. The main suspect has been living in Morocco since 2012.

Ilham B., a Moroccan-Dutch national who went missing since 2010./Ph. DR
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The mysterious disappearance of a Moroccan national is making headlines in the Netherlands. The case unveils the several flaws that hinder judicial cooperation between Morocco and the Netherlands.

In fact, Ilham B. has gone missing since the 10th of January, 2010. Her mother who lives in Morocco notified the authorities after she couldn’t hear from her daughter. Her body has never been found, but since the beginning of the case, her husband has been considered by the authorities as the prime suspect.

After spending eight months in jail, the husband was released but he was placed under judicial supervision. In 2012, the Moroccan-Dutch man born in Amsterdam decided to settle down in Morocco with his son.

A diplomatic crisis between Morocco and the Netherlands

The trial will take place on Thursday, November the 8th, and the public prosecutor believes he can prove that Kassem M. «knows everything about his wife’s disappearance», reported Dutch radio station RTV Noord. However, his arrival in Morocco has made things complicated for the Dutch authorities. 

Moroccan authorities have indeed seized the passport of the suspect, but this information is not confirmed for the time being, says the same source. The court in Groningen (north of the Netherlands), in charge of the case, has also tried repeatedly to revive judicial cooperation with Morocco, but its attempts have so far been unsuccessful, according to prosecutor Corien Fahner.

In 2018, the public prosecutor submitted a request, urging the Moroccan authorities to allow Kassem M. to travel to the Netherlands but they have not replied. However, the «defendant has the right to attend his own trial and would like to go to the Netherlands», argued his lawyer Fred Kappelhof.

On Monday, during a formal session the judges and the prosecutor decided to seek the help of the Dutch Embassy in Morocco. But according to Corien Fahner, «relations between the two countries are currently going through a rough period (...) I was advised not to take any further steps. I do not want to provoke a diplomatic crisis».

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