In Morocco, opening of the appeal trial of journalist Soulaimane Raissouni

The appeal trial of Moroccan journalist Soulaimane Raissouni, sentenced at first instance to five years in prison for “sexual assault“, opened Wednesday in Casablanca, his support committee and the organization Reporters Without Borders calling for his release.

In early July, Soulaimane Raissouni, 49, known for his editorials critical of the Moroccan authorities, was sentenced to five years in prison for “sexual assault“after a complaint from an LGBT activist. Facts that he disputes, assuring that he is being prosecuted”because of his opinions“.

The trial opened but the court decided to postpone it until October 27 “to give lawyers time to prepare for the defense“, told AFP his lawyer, Lahsen Dadsi.

The defense also filed a new request for the provisional release of the journalist imprisoned since May 2020, added Mr. Dadsi.

A trial “political and vengeful

Its support committee in Morocco, made up of several human rights defenders, denounced a trial “political and vengeful“and reiterated its appeal to”free him“, as well as Moroccan personalities and political parties.

The journalist had been on hunger strike for 122 days to protest his detention, which prevented him from attending most of his trial hearings at first instance. After numerous calls from his supporters in Morocco and abroad, he ended this strike in early August and “is recovering his health“said his lawyer.

The Moroccan authorities claim that Mr. Raissouni has benefited from a trial “fair“and that the prosecution”have nothing to do with his journalistic work“.

Two other Moroccan journalists, Omar Radi and Taoufik Bouachrine, were sentenced to heavy prison terms for sexual assaults which they deny. Mr. Radi is also charged with “spying“.

Morocco occupies 136th place out of 180 countries in RSF’s world press freedom ranking.

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