Gdeim Izik group trial: NGOs call for rejecting any evidence extracted under torture

Tunis, July 17, 2017 (SPS) - Moroccan judicial authorities should ensure at the trial of Sahrawi political prisoners of the Gdeim Izik group that no one is convicted on the basis of "evidence extracted under torture, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said today.

Morocco should ensure that no one is found guilty on the basis of evidence extracted under torture, said Sarah Leah Whitson, director of the Middle East and North Africa division at Human Rights Watch.

In November 2010, the Moroccan occupation authorities intervened violently to demolish the Gdeim Izik resistance camp, which had been formed by about 20,000 Sahrawis in order to defend their economic, social and cultural rights, including their right to self-determination and their right to dispose freely of their natural resources.

Among the Saharawi political activists, some of them were arbitrarily sentenced in 2013 to 20 years in prison and others to life imprisonment by a military court, although they are civilians, in violation of international law. Following the brutal and inhuman dismantling of the Gdeim Izik camp by the Moroccan police and army, Sahrawis accused spent 27 months in pre-trial detention.

But on 27 July 2016, the Moroccan court of cassation annulled, under pressure from international human rights organizations and militant jurists, the unjust condemnation pronounced against these Saharawi militants.

The Rabat court of appeal is to render its verdict in the Sahrawi trial shortly after a hearing scheduled for July 18, 2017.

In the previous trial, a military court in Rabat declared all the accused, relying almost exclusively on confessions allegedly obtained under torture. Most of the accused have been sentenced to heavy sentences and have spent more than six years in prison.

The two NGOs report, on the basis of reports from doctors, confirmed that the Saharawi militants were beaten sometimes, while they were hanging by the wrists and knees, and their fingernails and toes were also torn off.

They added that the military court had convicted them on the basis of a statement obtained under torture and ill-treatment. (SPS)