23 Jan 2017: Press release from ASVDH – the trial of the Gdeim Izik prisoners resumes

The trial of the Gdeim Izik prisoners resumes in a civil court in Rabat on 23 January 2017.
ASVDH –  (Saharawi Association on human rights abuses committed by the Moroccan state) has issued the following Press Release

El-Aaiun: January 21st, 2017
The Gdeim Izik Detainees group is expected to appear on January 23, 2017 at  the Court of Appeals in Rabat-Salé. This will be the second trial after the decision of the Court of Cassation which annulled and canceled the sentences against the members of the group by the military court in Rabat. These sentencing varied from two years to life imprisonment. That Cassation ruling made it clear that the law  provisions were not considered as factual and legal evidence provided by the requirements of articles 365 and 370 of the Criminal Procedure Code were ignored. This made the Court of Appeal´s ruling illegitimate…..(cont.)

For example, a paragraph in the  Cassation Court ruling stated that¨
The contested verdict condemned the applicant of the mentioned crime based on the requirements of the fifth paragraph of the mentioned chapter of which of some of its elements  a said existence of an act of the commission of violence, and that this has to be a physical act that caused a direct loss of life of a member or members of the public order. The verdict did not indicate the victims whom  violence was committed against, nor indicated the physical acts committed by the applicant and led to the death, as well as the lack of any medical autopsy which is the only scientific means of diagnosis of the cause of death, and the lack of visibility of the causal relationship between physical acts attributed to the applicant and the death of men of the Public Order. This makes the impugned judgment baseless and  eligible for cassation¨.
We, ASVDH, would welcome the decisions coming from the highest judicial Moroccan institution, which confirmed what we have been saying all these years about the innocence of the Saharawi political prisoners,  and we also consider it a positive response against the attitude and statements of numerous  Moroccan media outlets and associations in Morocco that aligned itself with the claims of the Moroccan authorities, which , in turn, opted to ignore facts aiming to distort the true image of the detainees in an attempt to criminalize them and to create confusion during this process of the trial.
Contrary to what we expected from a positive atmosphere, as a result of these provisions, the association recorded many violations that marred the phases of the first session held on December 26, 2016. These violations were detected at the level of the procedures and the rights of the accused, and perhaps most notably the serious prejudice made by the public prosecutor for its self-proclaimed claim to the civil right, in spite of its illegality at this specific stages of litigation. Add to all this, the breach by the Moroccan authorities to the principle of public trial, where they prevented the detainees’ families and  the solidarity groups along with a group of human rights defenders from attending the trial and entering the court. ASVDH also noted that many “thugs” were mobilized and who more than once assaulted Sahrawi activists inside and outside the court. They uttered insults and raised racist epithet descriptions and made death threats  against Saharawis. Some of these thugs even stole Saharawis´ phones which were used for photography by  Saharawi citizen-journalists. All this hapened under the very sharp nose of the Moroccan police scattered all around.
The Sahrawi Association, which is closely following this issue, expresses its deep concern about the status of these detainees, who have spent more than six years in pretrial detention, during which they had been subjected to various forms of torture and ill-treatment.

Based on all of the above, we declare the following to the public  :

– Our demand to open a fair and an impartial investigation on the brutal assault and dismantling launched by the military Moroccan forces  which attacked the protest camp at dusk against Sahrawi protesters and their property in Gdeim Izik, and which also led to the
painful deaths amongst Saharawi citizens:  “Brahim Daoudi” and “Babi Elgargar¨and the minor: “¨Najme Elguarhi ” whose murder was ignored by the Moroccan justice.
– Our demand for the immediate release of political prisoners Gdeim Izik group, based on the contents of the decisions of the Court of Cassation.
– Our demand for an immediate investigation into the torture allegations that detainees stressed more than once that they were subjected to.
– Our surprise towards the attempt  of some Moroccan lawyers including Unionists, asking to place themselves as a civil party in contrary to the laws of Morocco.
–  Our condemnation of the mobilization of crowds and the surge of media into a systematic campaign launched by the official media outlets targeting the Saharawis in general,and the detainees in the Gdeim Izik group in particular.
-Proudly commending all the organizations, observers and human rights defenders and defense lawyers of the detainees for their support and solidarity.
– Our demand for the international community to establish an independent international mechanism to monitor human rights and to report them, in order to ensure the Saharawi people ´s  full rights.

The Sahrawi Association: ASVDH
El-Aaiun,Western Sahara