The 24 persons prosecuted for the barbaric crimes committed in November 2010 during the bloody events in Gdeim Izik were finally handed out less sever sentences than expected. The Rabat Military Court pronounced the verdict Sunday at dawn ending a trial that triggered media uproar in view of the obstinacy of some human rights activists and NGOs openly aligned on the Polisario’s separatist theses.
Eight defendants were sentenced to life imprisonment. The same sentence was handed out in absentia, to a ninth defendant who is currently on the run. The other 16 defendants were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 2 to 30 years, at a time the observers and human rights activists following the trial proceedings were expecting capital punishment for some culprits.
The respondents were charged with the murder of eleven Moroccan military men and the mutilation of their bodies. This happened in October/ November 2010 when violent clashes erupted between security enforcement agents and unleashed hordes of people during the dismantling of a camp of tents established at Gdeim Izik by inhabitants of Laayoune, to initially express social grievances (right to housing, employment…)
The charges against the defendants, namely “formation of criminal gangs, violence against security enforcement agents that led to death with premeditation and mutilation of corpses,” require, according to Moroccan law, capital punishment.
In view of the sensitivity of the Sahara issue, which is being dealt with at the level of the United Nations, the judges handling this case have instead opted for life sentences rather than for the death penalty.
However, the evidence (photographs and videos) presented at the trial which opened on February 1, was so overwhelming and irrefutable, leaving no doubt as to the guilt of the 24 respondents. Even observers and human rights activists, who were defending the innocence of the accused before the trial, were deeply shocked by the images showing the atrocity of the perpetrated crimes.
The prosecution has indeed displayed before the court a series of photographs showing some of the defendants wearing military uniforms during a military training exercise in the Polisario camps in Tindouf (south-western Algeria).
The audience was also shown other compelling photos and videos revealing how the eleven members of the gendarmerie and auxiliary forces were brutally slain in al-Qaida terrorists’ methods and how their bodies were mutilated by members wearing military fatigues and equipped with edged weapons.
After watching the horrible, macabre videos and photos, foreign observers, journalists and human rights activists present at the Court ended up admitting that it was indeed a criminal gang guided from abroad and not a group of activists campaigning, as alleged, for the independence of Western Sahara.