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Morocco sentences 2016 protest leader to 20 years in jail


Rabat   –     A Prominent activist, Nasser Zefzafi, who led anti-Government protests in 2016 in a Moroccan Province, was on Wednesday sentenced to 20 years in prison, Defence Lawyers have said.

The Court of Appeal in the coastal city of Casablanca handed down the sentence to Zefzafi, the leader of the so-called al-Hirak al-Shaabi.

The same sentence was given to three other activists on similar charges.

The court also issued sentences ranging from two to 15 years in prison against other co-defendants in the same case, the defence lawyer, Naima al-Gallaf said in media remarks.

The rulings can be appealed.

Relatives of the defendants cried and shouted in anger as the chief judge announced the verdicts, Morocco’s independent news portal Hespress reported.

Meanwhile, some rights advocates denounced the rulings and the trial, the site added.

The case dates to late 2016 when Morocco’s Northern Province of al-Hoceima saw a wave of street protests against unemployment and alleged government corruption following the death of fish vendor, Mouhcine Fikri.

Fikri was crushed to death by a waste disposal truck while trying to prevent the destruction of his fish confiscated by police.

Zefzafi, a native of al-Hoceima, was arrested in May 2017.

The protests were some of the largest seen in Morocco since pro-democracy demonstrations in 2011, which led to constitutional changes giving wider powers to the elected parliament.

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