Report of Judicial Observatory in the trial of”The six political detainees” in Morocco (Belliraj Case)

Report of Judicial Observatory in the trial of”The six political detainees” in Morocco (Belliraj Case)


Around 3:00 a.m. on Tuesday July 28th, 2009, the Primary Court of Sale (Morocco) issued its ruling regarding the detainees in the so called “Belliraj case.” The sentences varied among the 35 defendants between an unimplemented single year, and life imprisonment for Mr. Belliraj.

As to the “six political detainees” who were included in this case their sentences varied; between two years’ imprisonment for Mr. Hamid Al-Najibi, member of the Unified Socialist Party,20 years for Dr. Al-Abadla Ma’aleinin, leader in the Justice and Development Party, and Mr. Abdel Hafiz Al-Seriti,  correspondent for Al-Manar TV satellite channel, and 25 years for each; Mr. Mohammed Marwani, Secretary – General of the Nation’s Party, Mustafa Al-Moatasim, Secretary – General of the Modern Alternative Party, and Dr. Mohammed Al-Amin Al-Rakala, Spokesman.

Charges against the detainees were “threatening the internal security and the forming of criminal gangs aimed at committing terrorist acts within the framework of a collective project to impose serious threats to the public order by intimidation, detection, trafficking and possession of weapons and firearms to be used in the implementation of terrorist plans, forging official documents and identity theft, collection of funds, properties and assets for the implementation of terrorist plans money laundering and theft.”

It is worth mentioning that throughout a year and a half of consecutive hearings the Court could not prove their guilt, including Mr. Abdelkader Belliraj, the main defendant in the case, whose relation with some was the main charge.

Before the court issued its ruling, the six defendants were given the chance to say their final words during the last court hearing on Monday June 27th, 2009, followed by a judges meeting (the Court was chaired by the Chief Judge Mr. Benshaqroun, two chancellors, representative of the General Prosecution and a clerk). This process was meant to indicate that verdicts were not ready, that the judiciary is independent and verdicts are fair, where in fact testimonies regarding defendants, including testimonies of government officials, prove that these people have fine reputations, good manners and distinctive cultural, social and political activities.

While waiting for the court’s ruling, the families of detainees, lawyers, journalists from different newspapers, magazines and TV channels, as well as representatives of human rights NGOs and others in solidarity with detainees from different political, trade unions gathered, since they did not believe the official story and as a result, established a national committee in solidarity with the detainees on April 24, 2008. The gathering was surrounded by security forces who tried to prevent some from entering the Court’s building and stayed until the gathering broke up there after hearing the court’s ruling. They went to demonstrate inside the court to express their denunciation of the court’s ruling and their solidarity with the detainees as well as express their sorrow for the judicial situation in Morocco and how it has become subject to security and political arrangements.

Since the first Court hearing on October 16, 2008, the Arab Committee on Human Rights, in coordination with the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism Division, was following the details of the case and the file of the six political detainees.

During the beginning of the observation it was supported by the Arab Institute for Development and Citizenship and the French Observatory for human rights. This was in accordance with the decision taken by several Arab human rights organizations which was issued in Kiev during the month of April of the same year and so ACHR sent many observers including the editor of this report, the Chairman of ACHR, Dr. Haytham Manna, spokesman of ACHR and Dr. Moncef Al-Marzouqi ACHR’s first Chairman.  They attended many hearings. Delegations of European observers included Mr. Fausto Giudice.

It should be noted that Moroccan authorities allowed everyone to attend the hearings and allowed all activities in solidarity with detainees inside Morocco and also did not prevent any lawyer or member of the families of detainees from travelling to participate in solidarity seminars outside Morocco.  Independent Moroccan newspapers were also allowed to publish different viewpoints in this serious matter.

It is noteworthy that Judge Banshaqroun, the Court and General Prosecution agreed to have a meeting before one of the hearings with Dr. Haytham Manna and MM. Abderraheem Al-Gamie, Abderrahman Ben Amr and Khaled Al-Sofiani, as they welcomed the presence of an international observer and for the case to be followed up by ACHR during all hearings and sessions.

Important aspects of physical and psychological safety of detainees and detention conditions were reviewed during the meeting. This was due to the criticism against arrest conditions and the taking of confessions under threat as well as detainees being subject to inhuman treatment, repression and oppression..

it is clear that the six political detainees, especially following the Moroccan, Arab and international solidarity campaigns, were treated well in prison compared to the treatment defendants in terrorism cases usually receive; however this did not include the rest of detainees.

It could be said that the Chief Judge listened to the lawyers during the Court Hearings and rarely interrupted them and the interventions of the Attorney-General presenter were not debatable, but the Court’s ruling, since the beginning, of not giving the defendants provisional release or dealing realistically with the data and updates is a reminder of business as usual in Morocco, “lawyers say what they want and the judge does as he is told”

From the first reading to the arrests, and in the company of seventeen human rights activists from eight Arab human rights organizations and according to the primary reports issued by the Moroccan Association for Human Rights and the Moroccan Centre for Human Rights as well as the assessment of many volunteering lawyers for the defence of the six detainees, it was concluded that this is an arbitrary arrest for the six political detainees and their inclusion in this case is a very serious matter.  This does not only threaten those concerned or the families of those involved of important figures in licensed political parties in terrorism cases, but it threatens the whole country, its reputation and the process of reform and change.

The main concern is that the judiciary which again provided proof that it is reliable or capable of providing impartial and fair provisions, especially in political cases, and it reports to artificial court hearings that do not reach the required level in a country that is supposed to be a model in democratic change and becoming a state of law after years of the use of bullets, Tazmamart Prison and so on.

Defense and Circumstances

According to the chapters of this case which will be reviewed, these charges were ready long before they were pronounced by the judiciary against 35 defendants who were charged with affiliating to the most dangerous terrorist cell in the Moroccan history known as « Belliraj Cell ». This became evident when the Interior Minister, the Prime Minister and the Communications Minister disclosed on February 20, 2008 when they threatened to go after anyone who doubts the truth of the official charges. It also became clear once the Prime Minister issued a decree to dissolve the Al-Badeel Al-Hadary Party under Article No. 57 of Moroccan Partisan Law as well as the issuance of the judiciary ruling on February 28, 2008, before the defendants came before the investigating judge, to stop Al-Ummah party from being formed and also before the General Prosecution went after the defendants and refused to give copies of the records and documents of the case.

Its noteworthy that the investigating judge had only started the interrogation process after three months, and defendants were not presented before the Court until February 28, 2009, thus demonstrating that this is a campaign to politicise the Court, a political invasion of the affairs of the judiciary and an attempt to control the trial.

As the difference and contradiction between Mr. Abdelkader Belliraj’s statements was clear, it should be asked on which bases some statements were approved while ignoring others especially since the defendant had changed his lawyer in the period between the primary and detailed interrogations.

Belliraj was accused of including the six political detainees in the case as in the report seen by lawyers on February 18, 2008. However, this report was drafted especially to provide an arrest warrant, while the news about two warrants to bar Al-Marwani and Al-Moatasim from travelling were leaked to the press before the date on which the report was issued.  It did not mention anything about the six political figures, which means that their arrest was a political decision, previously known as “Belliraj confessions”. The answer to the question about why Belliraj was not pursued in Belgium is simply because he hadn’t committed the crimes he was charged of, however he was sentenced to life imprisonment in a Moroccan Court that lacks integrity and credibility.

Unfortunately, this campaign was accompanied by a number of journalists who started to promote the affair as a big conspiracy against the Kingdom of Morocco. The isolation of Abdelkader Belliraj from the whole world and his prevention from having any contact with any member of his family for a whole nine months resulted in further rumours, as some accused Iran of attempting to disturb order in Morocco and some spoke of a role for Hizbullah, while others did not avoid mentioning a role for Al-Qaeda as well.

Some journalists have allowed themselves to fantasize, as they discovered a secret relation between Abu Nidal’s group to the Armed Islamic Group in Algeria to the Shiia movement through Al-Manar TV channel in order to prove the accusations of terrorism against Iran and Hizbullah and its TV channels.

This is being proven through the insistence of the security and diplomacy campaign during recent months in Morocco against Shiia, shiism and shiia books. This is an obvious threat directed at parties and other groups and a justification for the presence of specific security services.

The newspapers which promoted this matter did not allow those who called for their right to defend themselves, instead legal vacuums were used by these e-newspapers to promote serious charges against the politicians detained in this case.

According to statements of various people, the political detainees were arrested two months before being sent to the police department in Casablanca to be interrogated under inhuman circumstances.  Some of them were brought in their pajamas after they had their homes searched and their books, computers and CDs confiscated without any search warrant.

The defendants stressed before the Court that they were subjected to forced investigation under torture in the secret police station in Tamara. The defence requested complementary investigations to listen to the Investigation judge who listened to the interrogations of the main defendant in the presence of the person who tortured him. However this request was rejected like other requests. The General Prosecutor resorted to all means to prevent the defence lawyer from visiting their detained clients and when that was achieved and they were able to visit Mustafa Al-Moatasim they all agreed that it was fraud.  

Requests from lawyers to release their clients provisionally since their investigation was over, were rejected. Lawyers have made it clear that their clients, especially those well known in media and politics, have all the characteristics of the provisional release; that the defendants do not have criminal records, they are responsible for a family and minors, they have finished the period of detention pending investigation, they are ready to stand before the judiciary at any time to pay the material or moral fine, they have the right to the legal and Constitutional presumption of innocence but do not enjoy it, that their release would not pose any threat to public order and security, especially since they are public figures. The General-Prosecution decided that the request for provisional release is not based on a legal cause, although the presumption of innocence is original in Moroccan law  and is always used in favour of the defendant. In addition to this, the case of the six political detainees is entirely unproven.

Given that Morocco does not compensate provisional release, we are now seeing an unsuitable situation where the importance of the person, the undetermined seriousness of the act, leading to deprivation of the right to liberty, right to work and right to compensation, given that the freedom of the defendant wouldn’t threaten anyone. In addition to this, keeping defendants detained resulted in negative effects on society including the unemployment of a great number of those who work on economic projects. Therefore, more than one lawyer has insisted on lifting the financial inquiries with regards to the relatives of the defendants, as was discussed in one of the hearings of Salah Belliraj, brother of Abdelkader, who had cancer and all his money confiscated, as well as the situation of the father who had his all his properties in his son’s island confiscated.

Unfortunately, the debate on the personal principle of the administrative detention and its relation to the importance of the person along with the absence of the seriousness of the act and keeping defendants detained in prisons, needed a realistic legal response by the Attorney-General, however his response was not legally logical and did not include the previous legal instructions. The request to lift the financial penalties on the relatives of defendants was also refused and the matter of keeping detainees in prison was left to the penal institution.

The defence requested the decision on this case be terminated until the complaint is decided against the investigating judge of making fraudulent reports and secretly and illegally adding the documents of the international judiciary which were done in Belgium (Documents in French) to the case after the detailed interrogation was completed, describing this as a conspiracy against defendants.

The defence also called for the need to translate the documents which were written in French because it is a matter of sovereignty and is the official language in Morocco, however this request did not help because it didn’t terminate the process of deciding on the case but was only limited to the oral translation of some paragraphs.

It is worth mentioning that this case if being reviewed by three people who do not know how to write or read in Arabic; the first is Amazigh (Berber) and the other two speak French and they were not provided with the help of a translator to make them understand the language in which the reports of the investigating judge were written and during the detailed interrogation. They signed the reports written in Arabic without being able to read its contents. As the defence requested the right of the defendants to have a translator with them, this was provided for the two who could only speak French, while depriving the defendant who speaks the native dialogue of his right to have a translator.  This left one of the lawyers to translate for him voluntarily during his presence before the Court. In addition to this, the Minister of Justice did not approve the request to bring lawyers from Belgium for the main defendant or even against him.

Defendants could not review all the documents and complained that there were grey dots which they could not understand.

During the Court’s hearings it was evident that the charges are not solid and many documents were manipulated such as having information in Arabic from a defendant who does not speak Arabic and accusations of conspiracy for people who never met before, and considering that the “Islamic Choice” is an organization established in 1992 as was written in the reports while in fact it was established in 1981 as well as many other significant errors.

Witnesses were not summoned at the request of the defence, including two ministers who accused defendants before the judiciary issued its ruling and made statements in which they warned anyone who doubted the official story, as well as the Chairman of the Advisory Council for Human Rights who testified in a TV program in favour of Mr. Mustafa Al-Moatasim. The court refused requests to allow press cameras to enter the courtroom as these were public hearings, although five cameras were set on the walls of the courtroom without taking permission from anyone, which is illegal and the defence requested their removal and bringing the tapes in order to damage it as defendants refuse being videoed without obtaining their permission. The Court did not allow the entry of cameras to the courtroom and did not order the removal of the cameras set on the wall, despite the fact that the hearings in courtrooms were under strict security guard while observers were standing in a glass cage.

Defence also objected to not being able to view the material seized from the defendants during the stage of detailed investigations and requested that it be brought before the court during the hearing. Nothing was brought but firearms which were said it belongs to the defendants. Firearms were put on a table for seized material before the presence of lawyers inside the fence. It was guarded by six security guards who prevented anyone from touching it or getting closer. They staged the scene and viewed it on a magnifying screen. These firearms were presented in an illegal way as they weren’t sealed with red wax. In addition to this, the name of the officer who carried out the seizure was not provided as well as the date of seizure nor the name of the person who possessed these seizures without bringing experts to examine fingerprints.

The only gun was from the Czech Republic  but the bullets which were shot were not from the same gun, but were made in the Czech Republic too, which means that there should be at least two guns presented as the armed robbery on the money transfer from a Moroccan bank indicates that the gun is made in Brazil, and this raises the question about which report is false and which expert did not say the truth. Therefore, it is not possible to ascertain which gun was used to the assassination attempt of the Jewish trader Azencot.

During this hearing a long debate started between the defence and the Chief Judge after it became clear that there was a difference between the firearms in the photographs published by the Moroccan newspapers about “the operation of Macro” and the assassination attempt of Azencot in 1994 and those presented in court.

The lawyers and defendants submitted the reports, which were done at that time, about the operation, the news published about arresting the perpetrators, their names and their sentences.

Despite the lack of any indication to the participation of another party in the operation, these reports were brought back again to accuse the detainees using the same story, facts and some particular sentences.

 It was funny yet sad at the same time when the defence asked about which one of the defendants has the same character as the perpetrator, basing his question on the description given by the only witness who saw the assassination attempt. Since there was nothing related to the defendants, the lawyer submitted the report of the judiciary police to the Chief Judge to support his objection, however the Chief Judge did not suspend the hearing session even after the components of the charge weren’t found.

His debate with the lawyers made the Chief Judge leave the courtroom many times without suspending the hearing which continued over thirteen hours.

The defence also objected to calling the defendants, who have nothing to do with the firearms to see them, but this was overruled by the Chief Judge who called defendants one by one and the answers were as comical as the questions asked.

The short replies by the court were met with violent responses from lawyers who stressed the seriousness of the legislative setback, which led judges to realise the seriousness of the case and made them feel responsible. This security setback led to judicial setback, giving the impression that it was not realised that it is the Moroccan citizen who needs safeguards rather than the state as we can see the general rights through our reading to the arrest conditions and trial.

Lawyers for the defence saw that dealing with them and the defendants in this way negatively affects the country and gives it a bad image and legal requests are not to be rejected without any justification.

The Prosecution’s response was general and floated in a way that affects the concept of personal freedoms. One of the lawyers commented saying “We are facing a case of total follow-up, total arrests and total detention, although the law considers each person individually”.

The press statement for the defence of the six political prisoners and the National Committee in solidarity with them which was published on 03.08.09 summarized the situation after the court’s ruling that the file is fabricated, false and is not based on any facts. It also added that it is a political decision that attempted to be based on fraud reports which are attributed to the defendants and deprive them from their full rights of defence, including getting access to copies of the reports and documents, and summoning main witnesses to reveal the truth.

During all stages of the trial the Court insisted strongly on its version of the file. Follow-up and the story told by the Minister of Interior remained the only reality as the Court rejected all defences and their serious requests, including summoning main witnesses and appealing against processes undertaken: “primary research, search, arrest, detention, flagrante delicto, torture, fraud reports, etc..)

The defence has also submitted all documents, statements, articles and investigations conducted with the political detainees which all proved the official story wrong. Moreover, it stressed their political positions on national matters such as monarchy, national unity, establishing a State of law, renunciation of violence and the importance of political participation within the framework of accepting intellectual and political diversity and the adoption of dialogue and peaceful efforts.

In his assessment of the case, Mustafa Soulaih, member of the Arab Commission for Human Rights, who attended some hearings stressed that” While the Kingdom of Morocco continues to remain at the top of the list of countries in which corruption and suppression of freedom of expression and opinion are widespread and where the judiciary is not independent and where official state officers are not being held accountable, along with unimplemented legal obligations from the human rights standards of respect, protection and fulfilment, especially in the field of social, economic, cultural and environmental development rights. Despite all that, Morocco, after nearly a decade, is the only country which is still adopting the so-called Anti-Terrorism law and uses it in the prosecution of individuals, groups and other opponents as hostages subject to theoretical guardianship, investigation, detention pending investigation, imprisonment, or other forms of monitoring and spying and this could take as long as political, financial decision makers and their international allies decide.

In her presentation entitled “The circumstances of the arrest of the six politicians” which was presented in the seminar “Human rights in Morocco” (organized by the Arab Commission for Human Rights in Malakoff, Paris on 13.09.2008), Ms. Sakina Qada, coordinator of the families of the six detainees in Morocco stressed that “Those political activists are nationally and internationally well-known figures. Authorities did not need to resort to taking actions that affect their dignity and rights and which are contrary to the law in order to investigate them. These honourable men are known for their belief in working according to the law and Constitution and the adoption of moderation in their views and their absolute rejection to resorting to any form of violence, extremism and terrorism and their belief in legislative political work, dialogue and democracy.

Responses of Defendants

Hamid Al-Najibi was the first one to be presented before the court. His defence objected to the fraudulent report of the judicial police as the Prosecution was telling the defendant what he had done to the security men who were dressed in civilian clothes when he was arrested and brought to the police station. His investigation was conducted while he was blindfolded and handcuffed, in addition to this, investigators were violent with him and slapped his face whenever they heard answers they did not like, as well as strangling him with their hands, kicking and cursing him”.

Since the defendant was a professor of industrial technology, he was accused of manufacturing explosives for the Belliraj Cell, even though he denied any relationship with the alleged leader of this cell except for the drugs received from Belgium by him.

“I have never met Belliraj or got to know him, because there were many people who were bringing the medicine my brother used to send to my father (May he rest in peace) from Belgium and Belliraj was not one of them…. the progressive democratic youth movement to which I belong is a left-wing movement… could it be possible for any normal sensible person to have stated such a thing before the judicial police and say that there are leftist progressive democratic youth wishing to make Jihad in Morocco? This is not my statement and I object to it as fraud.

If the statements of the defence acquitted the six political detainees from all charges and denounce the official story while insisting on their full rights, but the statements of the detainees in defence of themselves is the biggest proof of innocence, it should be left to the reader to decide after having a look at some parts of the statements of the other five detainees:

*In the presentation of Mr. Mustafa Al-Moatasim on 07 and 12 May 2009 he said:

“Around 20 people started searching the house and confiscated hundreds of books from the library, placing them in plastic bags taken from the kitchen. Different books, such as a book about Moroccan cooking from Andalusia. They took many CDs including a set of classical music CDs. They also broke into the bedroom and confiscated nearly 50Kg of personal documents which i wrote about orientalism, Judaism, the events of 16 May, the desert case. They also violated the sanctity of my privacy by searching my closet. In addition to this they confiscated my laptop and my children’s computer”.

“After that they took me “Al-Maarif” where they psychologically tortured me in a series that started with  offense to human dignity by beating, intimidating and threatening to set me on  Alqarai”, in addition to insulting and cursing me while I was blindfolded and handcuffed. There were three to four guards who took shifts near my bed to prevent me from sleeping and kept the lights on all the time for investigations to continue until dawn, in addition to the dirty place and lack of hygienic food. I was also prevented from making wudu for there are no modern toilets in Al-Maarif, the thing which made me fast for about one week, where I used to eat very little to survive”.

“Interrogations took place on Monday and Tuesday where I had to sign 15 reports, however they investigated once again on Thursday where one of them told me that weapons get smuggled into Morocco and that Belliraj killed five Jews and Israel would “take its trousers off for Morocco” before asking me to cooperate with them. Investigators told me immediately after the press conference held by the Interior Minister that officials are not satisfied with the reports which were made earlier and that it had to be drafted for them to interrogate me once again violently”.

“Thus, the Interior Minister put the investigation in the direction he wanted, where conviction came before investigation. The arrest took place on 18.02.2008 and the press conference was held on 20.03.2008, where I was charged and they dissolved Al-Badeel Al-Hadary Party and reinvestigated me in 21.02.2008, Sunday evening at 10:00am. I was then asked to sign the reports while the lights were dimmed and I was without my glasses. I signed 30 reports and I was allowed to read only one copy of and sign on the others without having a look at it as they falsified it”.

“I answered police when they told me “you were followed-up because you didn’t report the cell” saying that I didn’t know of its existence and had I known about the existence of any organization that would threaten the peace and security of citizens, I would have reported it. The only time I knew was through someone who called me from Roma telling me that there would be terrorist attacks happening soon during the summer of 2003 – and here I correct the record and say 2003 not 2005, unlike what Ahmed Harzani stated – and the attacks would be aimed at sensitive installations. So I immediately called Ahmed Harzani, who is currently the chairman of the Advisory Council for Human Rights and told him and asked him to urgently contact one of the security officials to take quick and appropriate actions”.

In his defence, Al-Moatasim added “regarding the meeting in Tangier, it was just a regular meeting like other hundreds of meetings which we had in preparation for a political initiative. It was an introductory meeting where the Islamic choice trend was introduced to us and we analysed the current political situation in our country and the geostrategic changes in the world. After listening to us Mr. Belliraj asked a question about whether we had thought of having a strong presence in Europe due to the strong presence of Moroccans abroad and also because the Interior Ministry would hinder any political initiative and seek its destruction and this is what makes it valuable to be present abroad. Mr. Belliraj did not ask to be represented abroad as it was only an introductory meeting and I never met him again until we met here in the court and I wasn’t able to identify him”.

“The reports also say that we forged our plans to attack Jews and this is not true. Attacking Jews and their intimidations is a strategy of Zionists, Mossad and their agents. I do not rule out that Zionist gangs and their supporters could be behind the attacks on Jews who could use the naivety of some. We wish Jews in Morocco to return to their countries and leave Palestine for its people and that Morocco live in peace once again.  The Modern Alternative Party does not mind the presence of Jewish citizens as long as they abide by its goals”

“Since the judge didn’t ask me about the “Macro operation because I took the initiative and told him as he was going to give the floor to the Prosecution ’You didn’t ask me sir about the Macro operation‘ in which the reports claimed that it was my idea since 1994 and that I was monitoring Macro’s shopping centre for three months to put a plane.. I told him the reports of the police claimed that I was monitoring the centre from a coffee shop inside the centre based on the allegations that I was working in the High School for Teachers in Casablanca and that I was monitoring the centre after work. They thought I was living in Rabat and working in Casablanca. Sir, in 1994 I was working in the High School for Teachers in Fez and living in Fez which is 250km away from Casablanca. I only moved to live in Casablanca in 1999 when I was appointed in Casablanca, so how could it be possible for me to monitor the Macro shopping centre in Casablanca daily for three months when I was actually living in Fez?”

“Sir, we are facing a conspiracy led by new exclusivists or new Anarchists against the youth of the Islamic movement as they only want the see Muslims killed, bombed or imprisoned. They do not consider us as citizens like them. My imprisonment is a conspiracy to punish us for our stances on the political arrangements. We are imprisoned. The Justice and Development Party which was accused of 16.05.2003 events is being threatened as it had been hacked. The Unified Socialist Party is being punished for opening their headquarters for us to hold our party’s founding conference. I’m afraid that Morocco may fall into the trap of terrorism which would bring the country back live in a situation similar to that of Algeria and Tunisia. I also warn against repeating the same scenario which was the result of insults to the youth by the government during the 70s”.

He concluded his speech saying “founding the Modern Alternative Party was not done through the Interior Ministry and some people did not like that. The king has sent us in this regard and required the Ministry of Endowment to discuss the matter with us until we get the legal recognition. These conspirators wanted to send a strong message that bypassing them was huge mistake. I have nothing to do with Belliraj Cell because it already does not exist. The only network to which I belong and was one of its founders is the Global Arab Democrats Network”.

* The presentation of M. Mohammed Marwani

He stressed in his defence on 14.05.2009 that this trial lacks the conditions of a fair trial because “the case is being discussed without the presence of the means of proof, including the seized material and witnesses.” He expressed his willingness to cooperate in order to reveal the truth, pointing out that legal logic requires facts that “of exact knowledge that what happened had really happened” and that charges cannot be built on suspicion and gossip.

He submitted a list of his stances on topics like violence and extremism during his participation in the Islamic Choice, as the Movement is for the nation and then the National party.

He said that there is a political decision from certain bodies to involve him in this case, pointing out to what the Interior Ministry had said in a press conference held on 20.022008: that he was the commander of the Cell, while in fact an official from the Interior Ministry visited him during his investigation at the headquarters of the judicial police and told him “We know that you have nothing to do with this file”.

Al-Marwani pointed out that officers from the judicial police had given him the report on the evening of 24.02.2008, and asked him to sign it, so he read it and corrected some things. Then they gave him the corrected report and he read it but once he wanted to sign it he found himself surrounded with many people who asked him to sign many papers as they alleged that these are copies of the correct report and he signed it on this basis, however he found out that they tricked him into signing a fraudulent report when he saw the attached report in the case. Al-Marwani commented on this forgery, saying “Pettiness by the judicial police”.

In response to the questions of the Attorney General, he stressed that the meeting of summer of 1992 in Tangier was the first and last meeting with Belliraj. He pointed out the contradiction between reports which provided that the Cell carried out robberies in 1994 to finance the establishment of “the Bridge Newspaper” which was launched in 1992.

He asked sarcastically, “How could it possible for the Cell to have 17 billion and its members suffer financially?”

He concluded his speech saying that he has the evidence that this file is fraudulent, pointing out the “Macro Operation” in 1994 contained in the reports, and he surprised the court when he submitted a copy of the Socialist Union’s newspaper dated 29.08.1994. The newspaper contained a report by the Interior Ministry stressing that authorities arrested everyone involved in the Macro’s robbery, and then he addressed the court saying: “How could we be charged with other people’s crimes after they had already been tried”?

* Dr. Mohamed Al-Amin Al-Rakala stressed the following statement on 15.05.2009

“I stand before you with charges for which the Prosecution did not provide any evidence, charges that are based on fraudulent reports refuted by reason and logic and refuted by political and intellectual positions. This is a political trial that seeks to arrange the arena by force according to narrow and limited accounts based on the logic of subjecting political parties to an agenda that is contrary to all efforts made and being made to establish a suitable environment for a democratic transition. This democratic overturn targeted strong parties by restricting some and destroying others”

 “We should recall local events starting from July 1999, the day during which the rule was passed down from King to King, declaring the beginning of a new era. Although this Declaration gave hope to the majority of and brought a new hope, it terrified the beneficiaries of the old era. At the international level, the former USA administration led by George Bush has led a systematic attack on the Arab and Islamic nations as witnessed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine under the slogan of countering terrorism.”

“Most of these countries will get involved in this war by producing groups directly benefiting from the support provided by the U.S. administration and will be linked closely with war since the alleged attacks of 16 May would provide them with the necessary conditions to do anything they desire in the country and with its people without being held accountable. Thus they will use this crime to weaken their political enemies and abolish them. Our party was targeted because we used our right to organization which would never be forgiven by political decision and redrawing of the political map was their chance to take revenge on our courage.”

“You know that the extremists do not believe in partnership and cooperation, but their main concern is to eradicate and exclude their opponents, so are we like that?”

Al-Rakala concluded his speech saying “our stance from terrorism was and is still clear. Therefore, it was not sufficient for us when our country was attacked in terrorist attacks on 16 May to publish a denunciation statement but we contributed to the organization of the national campaign against counter-terrorism. We also carried out campaigns to raise the awareness of the dangers of terrorism for our people, nation and institutions. The Modern Alternative Party called for the formation of a national front to counter corruption on 08.10.2006 and we stressed that forming this front is a historical necessity. Our demands to purify the judiciary and security agencies of corruption and to form parties without election forgers and drug dealers and without bringing to justice those who loot public funds and perpetrators of gross human rights violations, then these statement about the democratic change and the project of modernization will become forgotten in a day.”

* Mr. Abdel-Hafiz Al-Siriti gave the following statement before the court in the hearing session on 19.05.2009

“I have two notes, first: the statements attributed to me in the report of the judicial police were breached and forged on four levels, the first: the report included an incident that I have never spoken of at all.

The second:  there is a forged incident whose nature and place were changed deliberately to meet the official story and the date given.

The third: I was asked about general incidents but investigators put them in the uncompleted report and misrepresented its content.

The fourth and last: there were questions which I had been asked but were never mentioned in the report.

The next note is that I am here standing before you as a person without reference to any association or political affiliation, as I ended my last association experience since 2000 and therefore I consider my trial to be a trial of my views and stances. Moreover, this trial is a trial of a historical era from the last century, in particular 1987.

After being deported to the prison of Salé, particularly after reading the content of the symposium organized by the Interior Minister, Chakib Benmoussa, I realised the reason behind the investigator’s insistence on forging the date which I mentioned.

There is deliberate confusion between the Tangiers meeting which was attended by Abelkader Belliraj in 1992 and the students meeting about the political matter in 1989.  The two meetings took place in very different times.

The second incident was added to my interrogation report which was the so-called attempt to steal a car that belonged to the water and electricity company during 1990. However according to their allegations and imagination and to also add some credibility to their story, the report claims that we decided to refrain from this attempt. This fabricated incident is intended to smear my reputation and involve me in this case which is weaker than a spider’s web and I am so sure that time will reveal which body which was behind which fabricated this file and their intentions.

It is strange sir for the same person who follows and praises Iran to praise terrorism too, since Iran had made people busy with it during war as well as peace.

It is not forbidden for a citizen to be interested in sociological studies and to work on the phenomena of transformation and change which was applied to a whole era. Why did I choose Al-Manar TV channel? It is known to all, Sir, that in 2000 there were no more than four Arabic TV channels which have correspondents and these channels are MBC, Al Jazeera, Abu Dhabi TV and Al-Manar. It should be noted that it is a personal freedom and I did not have any other choice as each journalist was working with one of these channels.”

Al-Siriti concluded his speech saying “I have seen the reports and signed it during stages late at night. At the beginning, the officer handed me a primary copy and asked me to have a look at it and correct it if I had any notes.

At the second stage he showed me a copy of the report including the corrections and amendments i made to the first copy and I signed it after looking at it.

At the third stage he showed me a number of copies, I cannot recall how many, and asked me to sign them. With regards to the search warrant, he asked me to write it down and sign it on 24.02.2008 despite the fact that my house was searched on 12.02.2008 at 7:30 am and instead of writing the date in which I signed the warrant they put it at 19.02.2008”.

On 21.05.2009, Dr. Al-Abadla Ma’aleinin stressed the following:

“The events which started fifteen months ago reveals two essential facts; The first is legal, as was clear from the requests and formal artificial defences, breaching the law became the  original while respect for the law became exceptional. The second fact is the violation of the standards of fair trial, starting from the presumption of innocence that has been obscured in the Interior Minister’s seminar in 20.02.2008 aimed at depriving us from having copies of the reports of the judicial police leading to detailed investigation, and depriving us from the provisional release, despite the fact that there was no flagrante delicto and all conditions and legal safeguards were fulfilled and last but not least, the exclusion of witnesses and the postponement of the so-called “seized material”.

Ma’aleinin finished his testimony by asking: “the person standing before you had spent many nights in debate and dialogue with the dozens of the deserts’ young people, both from his tribe and from other tribes in order to guide and persuade them to get involved in politics and to use proof and evidence with supporters of the separatist theory in the hope of attracting them to the theory of unity.

Here I ask a legitimate question “do those who involved me in the case really want those young people in get involved in political and engage in the national democratic reform?! Is it through these political calculations we could build bridges of trust and grow seeds of hope?! Or are there those who really benefit from the state of deadlock, doubt and suspicion, because it achieves political purposes and other benefits? “

Legitimate questions

Throughout the trial, only paradoxes, contradictions and violations became clear without providing any evidence whatsoever on the validity of the charges attributed to the convicts, who were subjected to unjust sentences.

There is no doubt that many questions arise for lawyers, human rights defenders and supporters of the independence of the judicial power such as;

Who is the beneficiary and in whose interest is it to turn innocents into victims due to fabricated crimes that do not have anything to do with preserving the security of Moroccan citizens against the threats of terrorism or its social and economic development?

Are the violations in this case an indicator of the start of an intimidation strategy to reformist political movements using the so-called “war on terrorism/war on terror?

Are we facing new means of political filtration through the fabrication of charges and sentences by instructed judges?

Is what we have seen a policy of forcing political figures to beg for mercy and to take revenge on them through the imposition of tough prison sentences? Is the next step, the appeal, going to go through the same intransigence in taking unfair decisions or will there be someone who still has a professional conscience and love of the homeland in order to prevent and deter the accumulation of unjust accusations against the oppressed and innocent people?

In a final statement in this case, a lawyer for the defence Mr. Khaled Al-Sofiani asked if there was anyone that could be bothered to have the homeland built on a basis that would keep the nation secure and stable. He also wondered about whom it might be that wants to send messages at this time after it had considered that opening the doors to a party with an Islamic background is a punishable crime.

Whom might it bother to have the light of freedom after years of ruling with bullets?

Who is it that might feel that the stability of Morocco poses a threat to his interests and future, even though he sees that the history of Morocco is full of trials of public opinion, parties, organizations and press? This is a unique case because it was fabricated and its figures were identified in the Interior Ministry, so those defendants who work for the dignity of the nation became considered as playing two roles, one in public and one in secret.

But if these parties were involved in terrorist acts, why weren’t all the members of these parties summoned?

As he considered this to be a political case, he addressed those “sitting behind the cameras” because they are destroying the country with these practices, while its citizens want genuine democracy and a real, not artificial, political competition. The construction of Morocco cannot be completed unless there is an independent and impartial judiciary that would provide it with all means to take its independent role as the era of ministries has ended.

If we were to follow the situation of this case during the next weeks and months, we would hope for a political breakthrough in Morocco that would result in better living for the people of Morocco and the involvement of the officials in building the country with other nations in order to maintain peoples and nations that are competing in the march of progress and civilization. In fact we fear further escalation. The relationship between Israel, Zionism and internal supporters in Morocco and the fabrication of this file and other files remains an open question.

According to the assertion by the defence lawyers that the political detainees who worked in the interest of Morocco and giving it a better reputation and also worked for the Arab and Islamic cases and for Palestine, have also struggled to replace the word “Jews” with “Zionism”, as Judaism like Islam, Christianity and other religions should cooperate. They are members of committees where Jews have shown solidarity with the Justice and Development Party and the Nation’s Party, so how could they be alleged to have attempted to assassinate a person for being a Jew? 

The question is supported by the statement of Mr. Mohammed Marwani in his testimony that the Interior Minister has accused him in a press conference of being a cell leader but this was denied by another official from the same Interior Ministry when he told him while visiting him “we know you have nothing to do with this case”, in addition to the testimony of Mustafa Al-Moatasim who said “I was re-investigated on Thursday, as someone told me that weapons were smuggled into Morocco and Belliraj killed five Jews and Israel  would ‘take its trousers off for Morocco’ before asking me to cooperate on behalf of the homeland”. The forged reports provided that we also planned to attack Jews and this is not true and is a lie. Attacking Jews and their intimidations is from the strategies of Zionists, Mossad and their agents. I do not rule out that Zionist gangs and their supporters could be behind the attacks on Jews who could use the naivety of some.

We wish Jews in Morocco to return to their countries and leave Palestine for its people and that Morocco live in peace once again.

The joint statement of the National Working Group to Support Palestine and Iraq and the Moroccan Association for Support of the Palestinian Struggle and the activities of the three national conferences in Morocco which was issued on 07.09.2009 links events and emphasises the growing Israeli and Zionist role in Morocco. The statement condemned the various initiatives to normalize relations with the Zionists, both formal and informal, Moroccan, Arab and Islamic,,, requiring Moroccan officials to put an end to everything which is being said through and from the Zionist media to the Western media, declaring the impossibility of participating in the military exercises of NATO if the Zionist entity participated, and objecting to the allegations about the preparations to open the Moroccan airspace to the Israeli airlines and the rumours of reviving relations with the Jewish State.

The statement also called Moroccan officials to stand in the face of all normalization initiatives which Moroccan citizens consider in their marches by millions as a national betrayal  and to stand firmly in the face of all attempts to cause ethnic and sectarian sedition in Morocco as Israeli and USA intelligence agents insist on tarnishing the reputation of the Moroccans by allowing Zionist terrorism and working on implementing its normalizing plans and the declaration once again of the Amazigh-Zionist Friendship Association.

The statement clarified that Moroccans were surprised to find an Israeli magazine being sold in  Moroccan shops which turned out to be distributed without authorization, followed by the invasion of Israeli dates in the markets, the declaration of denounced participation of the Moroccan military attaché in Washington in a farewell ceremony to the Israeli military attaché in his home, the news leaked about the rise in trade between Morocco and the Jewish state and opening the Moroccan airspace, like some Arab countries did, for Israeli aircraft to pass and allowing those who have Israeli stamps in their passport to enter its territory, and its willingness to open a liaison office and to restore relations with the Zionists in case settlement falters  and the resumption of negotiations between the Palestinians and the Jewish state.

Benshetrit, President of the World Federation of Moroccan Jews has disclosed that a high percentage of Israeli tourists came to Morocco. He also announced that a high-ranking Israeli delegation, including members from the Israeli Knesset and leaders of the Moroccan community, had visited Morocco and held an important meeting.