Morocco prosecutors seek double jail time for journalist on appeal

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Moroccan prosecutors have requested the maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for journalist Soulaimane Raissouni as he appeals against a five-year jail term for indecent assault.

The 49-year-old former editor of the now-defunct Akhbar Al Yaoum is one of several journalists critical of Morocco’s government to have been jailed for sex crimes.

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Raissouni was arrested in May 2020 after a young LGBTQ activist pressed charges against him.

He has always maintained his innocence and says he was prosecuted “because of his opinions.”

After he was detained, he held a 122-day hunger strike, missing much of his initial trial.

The prosecution told the court in Rabat on Monday that “the evidence irrefutably proves Mr Raissouni’s guilt” and asked for the maximum sentence against him.

Raissouni, who was in the courtroom, did not react.

The evidence includes an audio recording that has not been made public.

The plaintiff has asked for the original five-year jail term to stand and for damages of up to 500,000 dinars (47,000 euros).

Raissouni’s defense reaffirmed his innocence and called for his conviction to be quashed.

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said his original trial was “tainted by irregularities.”

Moroccan authorities insist his trial was fair and that the charges have nothing to do with his journalism.

Since 2019 two other Moroccan journalists, Omar Radi and Taoufik Bouachrine, have been sentenced to prison terms for sexual assaults which they denied.

Radi was also sentenced for espionage.

Morocco stands at 136 out of 180 in RSF’s world press freedom ranking of countries.

The trial is set to resume on February 7.

Read more: Morocco jails protest leaders for up to 20 years for 2016 rallies

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