17 of the 34 detainees in the Belliraj case, including the 5 remaining political detainees* have been on an open hunger strike since last Monday. Their demands are not that they be released or declared innocent. What they’re asking for is a chance at a fair trial. The appeals process thus far has been an even bigger joke than the trial. Every single one of the defense’s requests is turned down. We’re not talking about big things like providing evidence or witnesses, we’re not even there yet. We’re still at the stage of requestion translations, little things.
A (figurative) bombshell that was dropped in court a few weeks into the appeal. Apparently the people who drafted up the official document with the sentences were so distraught they forgot to put “In the Name of His Majesty…. ” in the header, therebye, legally speaking, rendering the whole thing invalid. This could have slid unnoticed. But then, the document (now the defense all has copies of the original) was later falsified, ok let’s say rectified, with the King’s name on it. The defense now has both copies, proving flagrant falsification of documents.
The judge decided to disregard the whole thing.
This is one of the very small example of the violations of the right to a fair trial.
This is in addition to everything that preceded, including arrest and search without identification or warrants, torture, falsification of signed “confessions” (the detainees were made to sign 20 to 30 of what was supposed to be copies of the original, a 20 page document itself , without being given the chance to read through them. The contect was later changed and attached to the signed page).
Last Thursday, the defense team for the political detainees withdrew as a protest, and with it several other lawyers for the other prisoners. Yesterday Belliraj’s lawyer announced his withdrawal too.
With all this, the judge is continuing the trial as though nothing out of the ordinary is going on. The trial was postponed form last Wednesday till Monday. The prisoners will be on their 8th day without food, one of them has already been taken to the hospital, there’s no defense team… but the trial goes on.
Right now there’s urgency because these people are on a hunger strike, open, ongoing until something happens. I don’t know what will happen first. Will one of them die before something changes? I feel that no one’s paying attention. The world has to know. It’s crucial right now for Morocco to be seen as a model in terms of human rights. It needs to live up to what it wants as an image.
(*Mohamed Najibi, the 6th of the political detainees was released after he finished his 2 year sentence, but he’s still attending the appeals hearings, terrified that the judge will reverse the sentence and send him back to jail.)”
More information on the trial on the Human Rights Watch site here:http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/12/29/morocco-address-unfair-convictions-mass-terror-trial