October 10, 2019

Moroccan prosecutor seeks 20-year jail term for journalist on appeal

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is appalled to learn that a state prosecutor has asked an appeal court to increase journalist Taoufik Bouachrine’s prison sentence on sexual assault charges from 12 to 20 years. Bouachrine is the victim of judicial persecution, RSF said, calling for his immediate release.

The Casablanca court that has been hearing the appeal since April was asked by the prosecution to increase Bouachrine’s jail term yesterday evening.

A newspaper owner and editorialist, Bouachrine insists that he is the victim of a “political trial” and has always denied the charges of human trafficking, abuse of power for sexual purposes, rape and attempted rape on which he was convicted and sentenced in November.

The sentence sought for Taoufik Bouachrine is utterly disproportionate and constitutes all-out judicial persecution,” said Souhaieb Khayati, the head of RSF’s North Africa desk. “We call on the authorities to free this journalist at once and to drop all judicial proceeding against him.”

In January 2019, a group of UN Human Rights Council experts described Bouachrine’s detention as “arbitrary” and said he was the victim of “judicial harassment.”

Morocco is ranked 135th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.