In Morocco, tougher prison sentences for eighteen African migrants after the Nador-Melilla tragedy

The Moroccan judiciary on appeal on Thursday evening, October 6, sentenced to three years in prison eighteen African migrants who took part in a murderous attempt to invade the Spanish enclave of Melilla (northern Morocco) at the end of June, the defense learned. “Eighteen migrants arrested on June 24 have been convicted by the Nador Court of Appeal [ville marocaine frontalière de Melilla] to three years in prison”defender Mbarek Bouirig told AFP.

Also read: In Morocco, the drama of Melilla is at the center of a battle of stories

The eighteen convicts – who are part of around sixty irregular migrants arrested after the June 24 tragedy – had been sentenced to eleven months in prison at first instance. The Moroccan Human Rights Association (AMDH) denounced this in a tweet “A repressive justice system” after the verdict.

These migrants were prosecuted “illegal entry on Moroccan soil”, “Violence against Law Enforcement”, “armed mob” and “refusal of performance”. On June 24, nearly 2,000 migrants, mostly from Sudan — a very poor, conflict-ridden country ruled by a military regime — attempted to enter the Spanish city of Melilla via the Moroccan border post of Nador.

Heaviest human number ever recorded

The tragedy left 23 dead among the migrants, according to the Moroccan authorities, 27 according to the AMDH, the main independent association defending human rights in Morocco, causing widespread international outrage.

This sacrificial death is the highest ever recorded in any of the many attempts by migrants to enter Melilla and the neighboring Spanish enclave of Ceuta, which form the European Union’s only land borders with the African continent. In the wake of this tragedy, several dozen migrants have already been sentenced to prison terms that have been extended by Moroccan courts on appeal.

Located on the northwestern tip of Africa, Morocco is a transit country for many would-be emigrants wishing to reach Europe from the Atlantic or Mediterranean coasts, or to cross the fences separating Morocco from the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.

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The world with AFP

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