Defence Lawyer Lili started the proceedings by pointing out some main issues that should be dealt with by the judge: The fact that the accused still didn't have any writing material; the threats made against Abde Sbaai, the brother of the accused Ahmed Sbaai, inside the court building; the fact that Mrs. Claude Mangin, French citizen and wife of Mr. Naama Asfari was expelled from the country and had no authorization to attend her husband’s trial and finally the fact that some members of ASVDH (a Saharawi organization legalized by the Moroccan government) were not allowed to enter the court building to attend the proceedings.
The defence of the accused continued the proceedings upon procedural matters. This raised questions about (1) the jurisdiction of the court, (2) documentation regarding the arrest and custody, (3) medical examination to prove the use of torture, and (4) witnesses.
One question raised in particular both discussions and protest within the courtroom. The French attorneys tried to bring forward the fourth Geneva Convention, but was prohibited when grand protests arose within the courtroom.
The civil party literally screamed out that the great Kingdom of Morocco has the supremacy over Western Sahara, and that the ID cards of the Saharawi prove that they are Moroccans (all Saharawi’s are forced to have a Moroccan name and a Moroccan ID card, and were at the start of the occupation deprived of their national identity). The civil party claimed that the French attorneys had no respect for the Kingdom of Morocco or this courtroom.
The presiding judge claimed that the international conventions were not legal instruments in his courtroom, and furthermore claimed that they could not be forwarded as legal sources in his courtroom. The presiding judge remained ignorant to the fact that the French attorneys were prohibited from presenting their case. The defence argued that all of the documentations (i.e. documents relating to the arrest and length of custody) could not be used as evidence in the courtroom, as they were extracted through the use of torture.
The prosecution argued that torture had never taken place, and that claims about torture had never been forwarded from the prisoners. The prosecution further argued that the court had to trust public officials.
Regarding the CAT decision on the case of Eênama Asfari (see more in point 126.96.36.199), the prosecution argued that Eênama had never been tortured. Asfari had, after the CAT decision, been approached by two police officers who wanted Asfari to come with them to Casablanca. Eênama refused due to the fact that he wanted his defence attorneys to be present at the examination. The prosecutor claimed that the fact that Eênama would not go with two police officers for examination, proved that he was only making false accusations.
The civil party advocating on behalf of the victims supported the defence in their request for both witnesses and medical examinations, but claimed that all the documentations had to be put forward as evidence.
The court ruled that the Tribunal de Première Instance in Salé was competent and had necessary jurisdiction.
Also, the prisoners were to be given medical examinations, both physical and mental examination.
The court ruled that the defence could present all of the witnesses, excluding the Moroccan authorities and ex-ministers that had been in negotiations with the Gdeim Izik dialogue committee. Thus, the police and gendarmerie officers who drafted the “minutes” (documents relating to the arrest and custody), was convened. The documentation could furthermore be placed forward as evidence.
Furthermore, it was ruled to postpone the discussion upon partial status for the civil party, i.e. the attorneys advocating on behalf of the victims. The court refused to grant provisional release.
Since 1975, three quarters of the territory of Western Sahara has been occupied by Morocco. A majority of the population is still living in refugee camps in Algeria. Those who remained in their homeland are subjected to serious harassment from the Moroccan occupiers. For more than 40 years the Sahrawis have been waiting for the fullfilment of their legitimate right to self-determination.
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