Morocco au­thor­i­ties charge 11 over fish­mon­ger’s death

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Moroc­can au­thor­i­ties have charged 11 peo­ple over the death of a fish­mon­ger who was crushed in a garbage truck while try­ing to stop po­lice from de­stroy­ing his stock, in a case that has ig­nited pub­lic anger. The death of Mouhcine Fikri in the north­ern city of AlHo­ceima on Fri­day has prompted thou­sands to take to the streets in four days of protests, among the big­gest in Morocco since pro-re­form demon­stra­tions broke out dur­ing the 2011 Arab Spring. Protest chants and a frenzy of an­gry post­ings on so­cial me­dia have blamed the Makhzen, a term used to de­scribe the royal es­tab­lish­ment.

In an ef­fort to calm ten­sions, King Mo­hamed, cur­rently on a tour of Africa, or­dered the in­te­rior min­is­ter to visit the vic­tim’s fam­ily and present royal con­do­lences. The gen­eral prose­cu­tor said on Tues­day that 11 peo­ple had been re­ferred to an in­ves­ti­gat­ing judge, in­clud­ing two in­te­rior min­istry of­fi­cials, two lo­cal fish­eries of­fi­cials and the vet­eri­nary chief in Al-Ho­ceima, on charges of in­vol­un­tary man­slaugh­ter. Fikri bought 500 kg (1,100 lb) of sword­fish, for which fish­ing is banned from Oct 1 to Nov 30 ev­ery year, ac­cord­ing to a prose­cu­tor’s state­ment pub­lished by state news agency MAP.

A po­lice of­fi­cer guard­ing the port gates called the se­cu­rity ser­vices, who im­pounded Fikri’s truck later in­side the city. The vet­eri­nary doc­tor de­cided the fish was un­fit for con­sump­tion be­cause of a lack of doc­u­ments. But the lo­cal com­mit­tee had al­ready pre­pared the le­gal pa­per­work to de­stroy the fish be­fore seiz­ing it, which amounts to forgery of pub­lic doc­u­ments, the state­ment said. Ac­cord­ing to lo­cal me­dia and au­thor­i­ties, Fikri jumped in­side the trash truck that po­lice used to de­stroy the con­fis­cated fish in a des­per­ate at­tempt to stop them, and was caught in­side the crusher.

Ac­tivists ac­cused po­lice of­fi­cers at the scene of or­der­ing garbage men to crush Fikri but the po­lice de­nied those ac­cu­sa­tions, and the prose­cu­tor said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion had shown there was no or­der to harm the vic­tim. The state­ment did not say who pressed the but­ton of the crusher. Protests were held in Al-Ho­ceima and other towns in the sur­round­ing Rif re­gion, as well as in Casablanca and the cap­i­tal Rabat, where hun­dreds gath­ered chant­ing “Mo­hcine was mur­dered, Makhzen is to blame”.

Large-scale po­lit­i­cal protests are rare in Morocco, where the king still holds ul­ti­mate sway, al­though un­em­ployed grad­u­ates have long de­mon­strated for jobs across the coun­try. Demon­stra­tions are heav­ily po­liced, re­flect­ing of­fi­cial ner­vous­ness over pop­u­lar un­rest. While lead­ers in Tu­nisia, Egypt and Libya were swept from power in 2011, King Mo­hamed de­fused protests in Morocco that year by de­volv­ing some of his power to the elected govern­ment. — Reuters

ALEPPO: Rebel fight­ers from the Jaish Al-Fatah (or Army of Con­quest) brigades fire mor­tar shells towards western govern­ment-con­trolled dis­tricts at an en­trance to Aleppo, in the south­west­ern front­line neigh­bor­hood of Dahiyet Al-As­sad. — AFP

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