Friday , June 9 2023

Mother of Scandinavians murdered in Morocco demands death penalty


Louisa's mother, one of two young Scandinavians beheaded in late 2018 in Morocco on behalf of the Islamic State (IS) group, on Thursday called on Moroccan judges to convict the accused who admitted the crime to death.

"The right thing would be to give these animals the death penalty they deserve," I ask you, "said Helle Petersen in a letter read by her lawyer to the anti-terrorism court Salé near Rabat.

Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, a 24-year-old Danish student, and her friend Maren Ueland, a 28-year-old Norwegian woman, were killed while camping on a secluded spot in the High Atlas Mountains, a mountainous area in southern Morocco. hikers.

A group of 24 men suspected of being linked to these murders and / or belonging to a jihadist cell has been on trial since May 2 before the Criminal Division of the Salé Court of Appeal, which is responsible for terrorist cases in the first instance. .

Many journalists gathered for what may be the last hearing in this lawsuit, the verdict could be said by some lawyers this Thursday.

– Law of retaliation –

"My life was destroyed when two police officers came to my door on December 17 to announce the death of my daughter (….) I don't know how much she suffered," lamented the mother. Louisa in her message, read in complete silence, in the presence of the impatient defendant.

On June 27, the prosecutor had demanded the death penalty for the three main suspects, citing the law of retaliation against the "bloodthirsty monsters", who outlined in court their role in the killing and their loyalty to the IS.

The brain of the group, Abdessamad Ejjoud, a 25-year-old street vendor, confessed to organizing the killing expedition with two associates and sharing images of beheading and a declaration of loyalty to the IS on social media. a jihadist group that never directly claimed the double murder.

Younes Ouaziyad, a 27-year-old carpenter, and 33-year-old Rachid Afatti, who filmed the scene on his cellphone, also acknowledged responsibility for the crime.

Imprisonment sentences to life were imposed against the 21 other defendants, accused of "forming a gang for the purpose of terrorist acts".

"The accused are victims of their social condition, poverty and illiteracy," said the lawyer of the three main suspects, Me Hafida Mekessaoui, complaining about "extenuating circumstances." She also requested a psychiatric report stating that the three men were "unbalanced" under influence.

Four attorneys representing fifteen defendants then asked the judges to acquit or accept alert circumstances.

Coming from modest backgrounds, with a "very low" level of education and education, the defendants lived mostly in disrepair in deprived areas of Marrakech, the tourist capital of the kingdom.

– "Zero risk" –

The case against Kevin Zoller Guervos, a Hispanic-Swiss convert to Islam accused of providing logistical support to key suspects, is expected later in the day. The prosecutor imposed 20 years in prison on him.

According to the lawyers, the defendant will be able to speak before the deliberations.

Responding to the claims of the Louisa family claiming ten million dirhams (about one million euros) in damages for "moral responsibility" of the state, the judicial officer representing Morocco on Thursday refuted all the "failures" invoked by the civil party – lack of follow-up detention, inspection of imams or detection of the radicalized group.

"There is no zero risk," he said, listing the various attacks that have taken place in recent years around the world and calling on Morocco's defense for its "worldwide counterterrorism expertise." "This tragedy was haunted by Morocco, it is not a tragedy for families, but for everyone," he added.

Petitions claiming capital punishment for the murderers of the two tourists circulated on the internet, the double murder caused great excitement.

Death sentences are still being issued in Morocco, but a moratorium on executions has been de facto enforced since 1993 and the abolition of the death penalty is under debate.

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