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Last Updated: Saturday, 12 July, 2003, 06:55 GMT 07:55 UK
Moroccan Islamists sentenced to death
Damaged Belgian consulate in Casablanca
One bomb hit the Belgian consulate
A court in Morocco has imposed death sentences on 10 alleged members of a radical Islamic group which is suspected of involvement in the Casablanca suicide attacks.

The appeal court in Casablanca also handed down prison sentences - ranging from 12 months to life - to another 21 members of Salafia Jihadia.

None of the accused were involved in the May bombings, which killed more than 40 people.

They were already in prison awaiting trial, having been arrested on charges ranging from murder to belonging to a criminal gang.

Lawyers for the men said they were not given a fair trial and are launching an appeal.

Salafia Jihadia has been identified by the Moroccan authorities as the main organisation behind the Casablanca attacks.

'Confession'

Two suspected leaders of the group are among those sentenced to death.

One of them, Youssef Fikri, had boasted of his crimes from his cell just a month before the suicide bombings.

In a letter to a newspaper, he confessed that he had killed one man for being homosexual and another for making disrespectful remarks about Islam.

The killings were part of his group's attempt to impose their harsh interpretation of Islam on the poor neighbourhoods of Casablanca in which they lived, says the BBC's Sebastian Usher.

Apart from murder, their other methods included kidnapping, arson and robbery.

The first hearing in the trial of those suspected of being involved in the May bombings is due later this month.





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