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Last Updated: Monday, 2 August, 2004, 14:56 GMT 15:56 UK
Guantanamo sends Moroccans home
camp x-ray
About 600 detainees are being held at Guantanamo Bay
Five Moroccans held at Guantanamo Bay have been returned to the authorities in their home country, Morocco's official news agency says.

The men have been held at the US base in Cuba since their arrest in Afghanistan more than two-and-a-half years ago.

They will now be investigated by Moroccan police, the agency said.

Morocco has led a crackdown on Islamist radicals since a series of bombings in Casablanca last year killed 33 people.

Many of the suspects arrested over the train bombings in Madrid in March are also Moroccan.

Criticism

The men who arrived in the North African kingdom on Sunday were named by the MAP agency as Mohamed Ouzar, 24, Mohamed Mazouz, 30, Radouane Chekkouri, 32, Abdellah Tabarak, 49, and Brahim Benchakroun, 24.

On arrival they were handed to justice officials.

There were no details of where they had been taken or whether they would face charges in Morocco.

The US has come under stern international criticism for holding captives from its war in Afghanistan in 2002 without trial.

There are about 600 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, though the US has recently released some or handed them back to authorities in their home countries.

It has also begun a process of tribunals to determine whether each of the inmates is being held legally.

And it has scheduled the first trials, of four prisoners charged with terrorist offences, to begin later this month.


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