Morocco gaols three for life

19 September 2003
A Casablanca court on 19 September imprisoned three men for life for planning terrorist attacks in the kingdom and attempting to overthrow the state. The court gave sentences of up to 30 years to another 30 defendants in the case. Two men were acquitted at the trial in Casablanca.

One man given a life sentence was Frenchman Pierre Robert, who denied all charges brought against him. During the trial, Robert - a convert to Islam - had claimed to be working for the French government, an assertion that Paris denies. He said that he was in Morocco in order to infiltrate militant Islamist groups in the country. However, the court found all the accused men guilty of working for the extremist group Salafiya Jihadiya, which has been blamed for the 16 May suicide attacks that killed at least 29 people. Lawyers for the defence say that they will appeal.

The defendants were tried under Morocco's new anti-terrorism law, which was passed in parliament soon after the Casablanca bombings. The prosecution in the case had demanded the death sentence for 12 of the men on trial.

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