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Ministry of Justice Detained Rif Activists Will be Guaranteed Fair Legal

Rabat – Hicham El Belaoui, a judge at the Ministry of Justice, has said that the detained Rif activists will be guaranteed “fair legal procedures” and “the presumption of innocence.”El Belaoui made the statements during a TV appearance on Morocco’s state channel, saying that the public prosecution will fulfill its role in defending rights and freedoms. He added that the prosecution has already ordered medical examinations of the detained activists and that it has responded to requests made by the activists’ lawyers to visit their client.The judge explained that “The detainees were arrested by the National Brigade of the Judicial Police (BNJP) based on instructions by the General Prosecution in Al Hoceima.” He added that, “The brigade received instructions to conduct these investigations. And it operates all over national territories according to the law and its prerogatives.”  The judge refuted claims propagated on social media, which indicated that detainees had been subjected to torture. He also countered the claims that the arrested activists had been kidnapped and taken to undisclosed destinations.El Belaoui asserted that the BNJP is bound to respect procedures such as informing families of the detainees of the reasons for their arrest and where they were taken. He also scorned the use of the term “kidnapping” to describe the arrest of activists, adding that it was perfectly normal to transfer the activists to the BNJP headquarters in Casablanca for further investigation.El Belaoui stressed that the Public Prosecution to the Court of Appeal in Al Hoceima does not shy away from issuing statements to enlighten public opinion and provide information about each arrest.According to the judge, there are two types of suspects: First, some are prosecuted for violence against security forces, armed protesting and damaging public property. Charges have been pressed against some of those arrested, while the charges against others have been dropped. Regarding the second type, 31 people have been arrested thus far for undermining state security.The seven months of protests came following the October death of Mouhcine Fikri, a fishmonger who was crushed to death in a trash compactor while attempting to retrieve merchandise discarded by the authorities.Tensions have increased over the past few days, however, following the pursuit and arrest of leading activist, Nasser Zefzafi, by police. He was taken into custody on Monday after interrupting a Friday sermon he felt was denouncing the “Hirak” movement, and was transferred to Casablanca for investigation. He has since been charged with “obstructing the right of worship” and “undermining state security.”At a press conference held on Thursday, the defense board for the suspects said that they have not been tortured and they are in a good health, adding that they have no information about the health status of Zefzafi, but are set to meet him on Saturday. read more