Rabat, Morocco (TMT)- Morocco’s most read columnist Taoufik Bouachrine, editor-in-chief at Akhbar Al-yaoum and online media outlet Alyaoum24, was sentenced by the criminal chamber of the Casablanca Appeal court, to 12 years in prison last Saturday for “trafficking in human beings”, “using power to sexually exploit, blackmail, rape, and sexually assault people”, and “inciting people to prostitute and recording and filming these acts” charges, in a marathon session that started last Friday afternoon and lasted until the wee hours of Saturday.
Various national and international human rights organizations labelled the charges as “trumped up” ones, aimed to silence a critical voice that “always shed light on corruption scandals” in his daily columns.
The case has seen several crystal-clear flaws since the trial’s opening as Afaf Bernani and 3 others “victims” said they were forced coercively to join a police station to lodge a complaint against Bouachrine, including the fact that most videos which the judges based their verdict on show that those filmed engaged in consensual sexual acts, not forced ones.
Earlier during the week, Afaf Bernani received a 6-months-sentence for accusing the police of falsifying her statement.
The last 3 years in Morocco have witnessed a huge regression of human rights and democracy following a notable opening after the Arab Spring, manifested in a clamp down on Journalists, Human rights activists, local militants in Rif and Jrada, among others.
The Moroccan Times.