Court Sentences 40 to Up to Seven Years Following Riots
FEZ, Morocco (AP) _ Forty people convicted of rioting during a general strike earlier this month were sentenced by a court to prison terms of one to seven years, officials said today.
The sentences late Tuesday night were the most severe handed down so far in dozens of trials following the Dec. 14-15 clashes that left at least five people dead during a general strike in several Moroccan cities.
The 52 people on trial were charged with rebellion, destruction of property, carrying arms and attacking the liberty to work.
Twelve people were acquitted.
Fez, the spiritual and intellectual capital of this North African nation, was the site of the most extensive violence. Soldiers and police intervened as rioters attacked hotels, post offices and a police station.
The government says five people were killed in Fez and 127 people injured and that security forces did not fire shots. However, the two unions that called the general strike claim that about 30 people were killed.
The court in Fez postponed until Jan. 8 the trials of 33 other people. On that date it will also continue the trial of Mohamed Titna Alaoui, head of the Fez branch of the General Moroccan Workers’ Union, which along with the Democratic Work Confederation called the general strike.
A Tanger court on Friday sentenced 28 people to three- to five-month prison terms, and a court in Sidi-Kacem sentenced nine people to one-year terms.
In Rabat, two opposition parties, Istiqlal and the Socialist Union of Popular Forces, demanded the government publish the identities of those hurt and killed in the violence and the names of foreign powers the government has claimed were interfering in the unrest.
The Moroccan government, meanwhile, continued this week its negotiations with unions and employers on ″priority measures″ promised after the disturbances, the official MAP news agency reported. Among the measures under consideration are increases in minimum wages and in social allocations.