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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 September, 2003, 02:16 GMT 03:16 UK
Jail terms in Morocco terror trials
Casablanca bomb debris
Hundreds were rounded up after May's attacks
Eighteen men in Morocco have received heavy prison sentences, as part of a crackdown on suspected Muslim militants launched following suicide bombings in Casablanca in May.

On Saturday anti-terrorist judges in Rabat handed down sentences of six to 20 years to eight men for belonging to a organisation called the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group.

Another 10 were sentenced to up to 12 years on charges of "criminal association with intent to carry out terrorist acts".

The 10 included a man with dual UK-Moroccan nationality, whose British wife vowed to campaign for his release.

The eight convicted members of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group were found guilty of training in guerrilla warfare in Afghanistan and receiving support from al-Qaeda to attack American and Jewish targets in Morocco.

"My husband wanted to bring his own witnesses to prove that he had nothing to do with this group... and they refused it
Fatima Merroun
The other 10 were accused of belonging to a group planning terrorist attacks under the umbrella of Salafia Jihadia, the organisation blamed for the Casablanca bombings. All had denied all the charge.

Among the ten is Abdellatif Merroun, a Moroccan who obtained British nationality after marrying a British convert to Islam.

He received a five-year sentence.

Speaking after the verdict his wife Fatima said the case against her husband was never properly presented in court.

"My husband wanted to bring his own witnesses to prove that he had nothing to do with this group... and they refused it," she said.

Speed

Fatima Merroun said all her husband had done was act as an informal interpreter once for a Moroccan Islamist preacher at London's Heathrow airport.

The preacher was last month given a 30-year sentence in connection with the Casablanca attacks, in which 45 people were killed.

Mrs Merroun said she was planning to launch a campaign in Britain to have her husband freed.

Human rights groups have criticised the speed with which the cases of more than 1,000 suspected Islamists have been handled.

There is also been criticism of the court's failure to test police evidence against the suspects in court by calling witnesses.


SEE ALSO:
Three get life in Morocco trial
19 Sep 03  |  Africa
Country profile: Morocco
18 Jul 03  |  Country profiles
Moroccans' fair trial concerns
18 Sep 03  |  Africa


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