Moroccan journalist gets five years for 'indecent assault'

Hunger-striking Moroccan journalist gets five-year jail term for 'indecent assault'
2 min read
09 July, 2021
Moroccan journalist Soulaimane Raissouni, who has been on hunger strike for 93 days, was sentenced to five years in prison on a charge of 'indecent assault' which his supporters say is politically motivated.
Supporters of Soulaimane Raissouni (in poster) say the charges against him are politically motivated [Getty]

Detained Moroccan journalist Soulaimane Raissouni was on Friday sentenced to five years in jail for indecent assault against a man.

Raissouni, who has been on hunger strike for 93 days, was not present in court. The 49-year-old has been in detention since May last year after an LGBT activist accused him of indecent assault, a charge he denies.

Raissouni was editor-in-chief of the now-defunct newspaper Akhbar Al Yaoum.

His supporters say the case is part of an official defamation campaign against critical journalists and activists. Morocco says its judiciary is independent.

The judge ordered Raissouni on Tuesday to appear in court to hear the verdict.

The journalist had said he would only appear in court if he was transported there in an ambulance and provided with a wheel chair.

Miloud Kandil, his lawyer, termed the verdict a "judicial butchery", adding: "How can you condemn an accused in his absence?"

Raissouni began a hunger strike in April demanding to be provisionally released.

All his requests for release had been rejected since his arrest last year.

Raissouni, who has a history of run-ins with the authorities, says he has lost more than 35 kilogrammes (77 pounds), much of it since he began a hunger strike over the "great injustice" of his detention.

His trial began in February but has been delayed several times.

Moroccan courts have rejected all his requests to be released, despite a pressure campaign both in Morocco and overseas.