A Moroccan antiterrorist court on Wednesday upheld the death sentence of three men for the murder of two Scandinavian tourists decapitated in December in Morocco on behalf of Islamic State (IS) jihadists.
The first, Abdessamad Ejjoud, a 25-year-old radicalized street vendor, confessed to organizing the deadly expedition with two companions, Younes Ouaziyad, a 27-year-old carpenter, and Rachid Afatti, 33, who had filmed the scene. Its spread on social networks had caused alarm.
A fourth man, 33-year-old Abderrahim Khayali, has seen his sentence increased from life to death. He had taken part in the equipment in the High Atlas but had left before the killing.
A total of 24 men suspected of being linked to these killings and / or belonging to a jihadist cell were tried in this highly followed trial.
The Salé anti-terrorism court, near Rabat, has confirmed the sentences handed down to 19 defendants, ranging from 5 to 30 years in prison, and adds to the sentence of another 15 to 20 years.
They were tried in particular for « forming a band to commit terrorist acts ». On Wednesday, they alternately pleaded for the clemency of the judges by saying they were innocent, some offering their condolences to the families of the victims, Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, a 24-year-old Danish student, and her friend Maren Ueland, a 28-year-old Norwegian.
The only foreigner in the group, Kevin Zoller Guervos, a 25-year-old Hispano-Swiss convert, preferred to give the floor to his lawyer to reiterate his innocence. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Words of challenge
Although death sentences are still pronounced in Morocco, a moratorium on executions has been applied de facto since 1993 and the abolition of this punishment is debated. The prosecution had appealed the confirmation of the sentences in wishing their « execution » effective.
The trial concluded on Wednesday with defiant words from the three main defendants, before the deliberation. « If you condemn us, execute us, I excommunicate you, I do not believe in your laws or in the human rights », proudly launched the suspected leader of the radicalized cell, Abdessamad Ejjoud, to the judges of the court of Salé call.
As their presumed leader, Younes Ouaziyad and Rachid Afatti took advantage of their last speech to challenge the judges by citing warlike suras of the Koran, causing a stir in the room.
Abderrahim Khayali once again assured Wednesday that he had not participated in the crime.
All four, from a modest background and poorly educated, lived precarious jobs in poor neighborhoods of Marrakech. They had shot a video of allegiance to IS, broadcast shortly after the killing.
The double murder has shaken Morocco, which had until then been spared by Islamist radicals since the attacks that had killed 17 people in 2011 in Marrakech.