Thursday, September 25, 2008
. MOROCCO: BLOGGER WHO CRITICISED KING FREED
On 18 September, a Moroccan appeals court overturned a two-year jail
sentence given to a local blogger for criticising the King and the royal
family, report the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), the
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
On 8 September, Mohammed Erraji was jailed and fined 5,000 dirhams (US$620)
for failing to respect the King. The trial reportedly lasted 10 minutes. He
was later released on bail pending the appeals court ruling.
Erraji had accused Morocco's monarchy of encouraging a culture of
dependency in an article for online newspaper Hespress.com. He argued that
the King's custom of granting favours, such as taxi licences to a lucky
few, encouraged people to rely on handouts. Read an English translation of
the article on the Global Voices Online website: http://tinyurl.com/5lo2ol
The presiding judge at the appeals court cited flaws in prosecuting the
case of the 29-year-old blogger, including the failure to summon him to
attend trial 15 days before he actually appeared in court and his unlawful
detention ahead of the trial.
"I am very happy with today's court ruling, which came after a summary and
unfair ruling," Erraji told CPJ on the day of his release. "But at the same
time, my happiness is mixed with feelings of sadness, because it never
occurred to me that one day I would be arbitrarily accused of showing
disrespect toward the King, which is a grave accusation."
A source close to Erraji said, "I cannot overstate the importance of the
support by organisations like IFEX and International PEN. I would like to
thank them for unconditionally standing by their principles, and would like
to state that their moral authority is an inspiration to all of us."
Visit these links:
- ANHRI: http://www.anhri.net/en/reports/2008/pr0920-2.shtml
- CPJ: http://tinyurl.com/3pnyxl
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=28603
- Reuters: http://tinyurl.com/46hpf6
- "IFEX Communiqué" on Erraji's arrest and sentence: