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Morocco sentences three to death for murder of Scandinavian tourists
The defendants had asked God for forgiveness during their final statements at a packed courtroom in Sale, near the capital Rabat, following an 11-week trial of 24 suspects.
His expressionless face framed by a beard and a traditional kufi cap, alleged ringleader Abdessamad Ejjoud appealed to God to "forgive" him.
The 25-year-old street vendor and underground imam has confessed to orchestrating the attack with two other radicalised Moroccans last December.
He and two others admitted to killing 24-year-old Danish student Louisa Vesterager Jespersen and 28-year-old Norwegian Maren Ueland in murders that shocked the North African country.
Prosecutors and social media users had called for the death penalty for all three, despite Morocco having a de facto freeze on executions since 1993.
Younes Ouaziyad, a 27-year-old carpenter who admitted to beheading one of the tourists, also asked for "God's forgiveness".
"There is no god but God," said the third alleged assailant 33-year-old Rachid Afatti, who has admitted to filming the grisly murders on his mobile phone.
Journalists had gathered outside the anti-terrorist court ahead of the ruling.
"We expect sentences that match the cruelty of the crime," lawyer Khaled El Fataoui, speaking for Jespersen's family, told AFP.
Helle Petersen, her mother, in a letter read out in court last week, said: "The most just thing would be to give these beasts the death penalty they deserve."
Ueland's family had declined to take part in the trial.
The prosecution has called for jail terms of between 15 years and life for the 21 other defendants on trial since May 2.
The court sentenced Kevin Zoller Guervos, a Spanish-Swiss convert to Islam, to 20 years for joining a "terrorist group".
The only non-Moroccan in the group, Guervos was accused of having taught the main suspects how to use an encrypted messaging service and to use weapons.
His lawyer, Saad Sahli, said Guervos had cut all ties with the other suspects "once he knew they had extremist ideas" more than 18 months ago.
All but three of those on trial had said they were supporters of the Islamic State group, according to the prosecution, although IS itself has never claimed responsibility for the murders.
The three killers of the women were "bloodthirsty monsters", the prosecution said, pointing out that an autopsy report had found 23 injuries on Jespersen's decapitated body and seven on that of Ueland.
Ejjoud had confessed at a previous hearing to beheading one of the women and Ouaziyad the other while Afatti filmed.
The defence team argued there were "mitigating circumstances on account of their precarious social conditions and psychological disequilibrium".
Coming from modest backgrounds, with a "very low" level of education, the defendants lived for the most part in low-income areas of Marrakesh.
The court however ordered the three to pay 2 million dirhams ($200,000) in compensation to Ueland's parents.
Jespersen's lawyers have accused authorities of failing to monitor the activities of some of the suspects before the murders.
But the court rejected the Jespersen family's request for 10 million dirhams in compensation from the Moroccan state for its "moral responsibility".
Yazı kaynağı : www.france24.com
Terrorism suspected in Morocco murder of Scandinavian hikers
The Rabatpublic prosecutor's office said in a statement that the one suspect that has been arrested so far has affiliations to aterrorist group, but did not name which one.
The women’s bodies were found on Monday in an isolated area near Imlil, on the way to Toubkal, North Africa’s highest peak and a popular hiking destination.
Three other suspects have also been identified, but are still on the run.
"Radical Islam is not ruled out due to the profile of the suspect arrested and of the three men wanted," the AFP also reported, citing an unnamed police source.
The source said that one of the women -- identified as 24-year-old Louisa Vesterager Jespersen from Denmark and 28-year-old Maren Ueland from Norway -- had been beheaded.
The prosecutor’s office said that police is currently working on authenticating a video tape shared on social media claiming to show the killing of one of the tourists.
The killings have shocked Morocco, a popular tourist destination where such attacks on foreigners are extremely rare.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP, REUTERS)
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Death sentence for Moroccan trio who killed European tourists
Three men were convicted of terrorism and sentenced to death by a Moroccan court Thursday for the brutal slaying of two Scandinavian women hiking in the Atlas Mountains.
A fourth suspect who fled the scene was given life in prison. After several hours of deliberation, the court handed 19 accomplices jail terms ranging from five to 30 years. All have 10 days to appeal.
Maren Ueland, 28, from Norway, and Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, from Denmark, were fatally stabbed in December. The slayings were recorded on video and posted online.
None of the 23 reacted as the sentences were read out Thursday, but their families rushed out of the crowded courtroom crying.
The men claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group. All 23 addressed the court before the verdicts, most begging for leniency.
The main defendants, who asked Allah for forgiveness, were carpenters Jounes Ouzayed and Rashid Afatti, and street merchant Abdessamad Al Joud. They were sentenced to death.
The man who fled the scene is Khaiali Abderahman, who got life.
Morocco only rarely carries out death sentences. The last execution was in 1993 of Mustapha Tabet, a once-powerful Casablanca police commissioner, convicted of raping and abusing hundreds of victims.
In closing arguments in June, the prosecutor asked the court to sentence the top suspects to death, and described the three main defendants as “human beasts.”
A Swiss-Spanish convert to Islam, Kevin Zoller, who had pleaded innocent, received a 20-year sentence. Prosecutors said he had links to the men who orchestrated the women’s killings and direct contact with IS members in Syria via the encrypted messaging service Telegram.
Another Swiss man was sentenced in April to 10 years in prison, convicted on charges including “deliberately helping perpetrators of terrorist acts” and training terrorists, the state-run news agency MAP said at the time.
The lawyer for Vesterager’s family said he was “100% satisfied” with the verdicts. Khalid El Fataoui noted that Louisa Vesterager’s mother had asked the court in a letter at an earlier hearing this month to sentence the killers to death.
“We obtained what she asked for.”
The court also ordered the four main defendants to pay the equivalent of $209,000 in damages to the family of the Norwegian victim, but refused a demand from the Danish victim’s family for the Moroccan state to pay damages.
El Fataoui said he would appeal.
Yazı kaynağı : www.africanews.com
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