Trial of Human Rights Activists Postponed, Again

RABAT – The trial of Maati Monjib and six of his comrades was postponed to June 29, 2016, reported today the support committee for the Moroccan historian and his six co-defendants. The decision was made during a hearing that took place on Wednesday, March 23, at the Tribunal of First Instance of Rabat.

The presiding judge justified the postponement by the fact that two of the seven accused, Hicham Mansouri and Hicham Khribchi (alias Hisham Almiraat), were absent. For its part, the defense committee, composed of ten lawyers and chaired by barrister Abderrahmane Benameur, vainly pleaded with the judge for the need to begin the process without delay.

Present during the short hearing were five foreign observers: Richard Winfield from Columbia School of Law, co-founder of the International Senior Lawyers Project (ISLP, New York); Kristina Mendoza, member of the ISLP; Yasmine Kacha, head of Reporters Without Borders’ Maghreb office (Tunis); Peter Ganz, Vice President of Observatoire de la déontologie de l’information, a media watchdog, and representative of the international support committee for the accused (Paris); and Veronica Janssen, political adviser to the European Union delegation in Rabat. At the request of the judge, the defense committee handed a list of foreign observers’ names to the court.

Shortly before the hearing, the support committee organized a press conference at the headquarters of the Moroccan Association of Human Rights (AMDH)  in Rabat. Two of the seven co-defendants, Mr. Monjib and Mr. Tarik Rachid spoke at the conference, along with Mr. Ganz, Ms. Kacha and Mr. Abderrahim Jamai.

Were also present at the conference, representatives in Rabat of international news agencies (Agence France Press, Reuters, Associated Press and the EFE news agency) in addition to the Al-Jazeera network. The local press was conspicuously absent from the conference.

AMDH President, Ahmed Al Hayej, read a statement to be addressed to Mr. David Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression.

In response to a question from the press about rumors that some defendants may have sought political asylum abroad, Maati Monjib said he could “understand why young people are losing confidence in the justice of their own country.”

During the hearing, the support committee organised a small demonstration in front of the court under pouring rain.

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