CABINET D’AVOCATS JUS COGENS – Me Christophe MARCHAND (GSM: 32.4188.8.131.52 ; email@example.com) – Me Dounia ALAMAT (GSM: 32.4184.108.40.206 ; firstname.lastname@example.org) – Me Nicolas COHEN (GSM : 32.470.02.65.41 ; email@example.com)
Translation : Frances Webber
Without taking the time to examine or respond to the questions raised by the defence, the Salé Court of Appeal upheld Ali Aarrass’ conviction, merely reducing his sentence from fifteen to twelve years’ imprisonment at the adjourned hearing of his appeal on 1 October.
Questioned by the court, Ali tried to describe the torture he had been subjected to – and the judges refused to hear his account, stopping him just as he was explaining how he had been tied to a tree and beaten until he lost consciousness. After a short prosecution summing-up notable for its failure to address any of the defence arguments, Ali’s lawyers summed up his case, in front of judges who demonstrated their impatience to have done with the affair. The failed to maintain even the appearance of a fair hearing. Two of the judges were obviously sleeping, while the presiding judge was consulting his mobile phone. The president indicated that he did not need the prosecutor to respond to the final arguments of the defence. After deliberating for little more than an hour, the judges returned with the unsurprising decision to sentence Ali to twelve years, not interfering with the conviction despite the UN Special Rapporteur’s condemnation of Morocco just a week earlier for judges’ acceptance of evidence obtained by torture.The overwhelming impression given by the judges at the hearing was that they did not want to listen, since they had made their decision even before the hearing.
An urgent petition had been sent to the UN Committee Against Torture seeking an order that the Moroccan authorities mount an independent investigation of the torture allegations made by Ali Aarrass. But in the absence of a response from the Committee, the verdict of the court was a forgone conclusion.
This new setback only enhances the determination of Ali Aarrass, his family, his supporters and his legal team to carry on the fight for justice. An appeal to the Court of Cassation will be lodged in the next few days and the battle will continue for an independent inquiry into the allegations of torture. Meanwhile, the complaints against Morocco and Spain to the UN human rights and torture committees are still being pursued.