Moroccan Courts Sentence 87 for Rioting
FEZ, Morocco (AP) _ Moroccan courts sentenced 87 people to prison terms of up to seven years for rioting during a general strike this month, officials said Wednesday.
The sentences were the most severe so far in dozens of trials following Dec. 14-15 unrest in Morocco that killed at least five people.
Forty people in Fez drew sentences late Tuesday and Wednesday ranging from one to seven years in jail on charges of rebellion, destruction of property, carrying arms and attacking the liberty to work, Twelve were acquitted.
Seven people, aged 18 to 29, were sentenced in Meknes, north-central Morocco, to terms of six months to one year in prison on similar charges.
In Tangier, 40 people were sent to jail for three months to one year for their part in the violence.
Courts in Tangier and Sidi-Kacem on Friday sentenced 37 people in all to prison terms ranging up to one year.
Fez suffered the worst violence. Rioters there attacked hotels, post offices and a police station. The government says five people were killed there and 127 injured. It said security forces withheld fire. The two unions that called the strike claim about 30 people were killed.
Thirty-three other defendants are awaiting trial in Fez. Also on trial is Mohamed Titna Alaoui, leader of the Fez branch of the General Moroccan Workers’ Union, which along with the Democratic Work Confederation called the strike.
The government claimed unidentified foreign powers helped foment the unrest.
It is negotiating with unions and employers on ″priority measures″ promised after the riots, the official MAP news agency reported, including increases in minimum wages and in social allocations.