Crime & Justice

Rabat court hikes sentences for girl’s rapists in case that shocked country

Rabat, April 14 (EFE).- The sentences against three Moroccan men convicted of repeatedly raping an 11-year-old girl were increased by an appeals court judge early Friday morning from initial respective sentences of 18 months and two years in prison to 10 and 20 years.

The girl, from a village east of capital Rabat and now aged 13, became pregnant and now has a one-year old baby. The initial sentences for the men sparked outrage in Morocco.

In this second and final hearing, which lasted 11 hours and ran until 1.30 am Friday, a Rabat Court of Appeal judge increased the sentence against Abdeluahed B, who is 29 and according to a DNA test is the father of the girl’s baby, was sentenced to 20 years in prison up from an initial sentence of two years, and ordered to pay a fine of 60,000 dirhams ($6,000).

The two other men, Karim A, 36, and his nephew Yusef Z, 22, had their sentences raised from 18 months in prison to 10 years, and ordered to pay a fine of 40,000 dirhams ($4,000).

During the hearing, the prosecutor requested the maximum sentence against the three men, which according to the Moroccan Penal Code would be 20 years in prison.

The girl has been deprived of her childhood and cannot play like other children, he said.

The prosecutor did not agree with the mitigating factors that the first instance judge applied to the three men – considering the maximum sentence too severe for the crime, their lack of criminal records and their social condition – as he said they should not be applied in these “outrageous cases that have consequences for the whole of society.”

Behind closed doors, the hearing was marked by the testimony of the girl which, according to her lawyers, confirmed her previous statements pointing to those convicted as her rapists.

The prosecutor also decided Friday to open an investigation against a young witness – a family member of Yusef Z and neighbor of the victim – to the events, for complicity.

The three men have flatly denied the accusations and Abdeluahed B claims he is not the father of the girl’s baby, despite the DNA test confirming that he is 99 percent likely to be.

The hearing was attended by several women’s rights NGOs and a large contingent of national and international journalists who have been following the case which has highlighted the lax penalties applied in Morocco against sex crimes. EFE


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